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Limoncello Kaltsounia or Lychnarakia, another twist

Limoncello Kaltsounia or Lychnarakia, another twist

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Kaltsounia or Lychnarakia, is probably the most known Cretan recipe.   Remember my post on Calzone where I mentioned the connection of the two names?

Kaltsounia can be either with a sweet or savory filling and the pastry shell differs in each case. 

Savory Kaltsounia use a pastry phyllo in which they add raki and for filling they add some greens like spinach and some wild greens, with herbs or just with xynomyzithra and eggs, which is a light whey cheese, similar to ricotta. 

In other parts of Greece we call these bourekia.

Lychnarakia before baking photo


The sweet kaltsounia are very different in taste and shape.  They are called “lychnarakia, also written lihnarakia” because of their shape, resembling old oil lamps, whereas in other parts of Greece they are called “melitinia” meli = honey.

Collage Lihnarakia ingredients image

The Greek cheese used is myzithra (anthotyro), which can be flavoured with cinnamon, vanilla or lemon zest.  The phyllo is made with olive oil, flour, yoghurt (or milk) and eggs, so it tastes more like a cookie filled with cheese.

My twist to this recipe is that I made the pastry with butter and added  lemon zest and limoncello in the filling, giving the cheese a lovely lemony taste. 

The pastry shell was not very sweet and my children said they would prefer them to be more sweet but for my taste they were perfect. 

When I make them again next time I may add a couple of tablespoons sugar in the pastry and in the filling shall go even further and make them with lemon curd and anthotyro.

Lihnarakia photo

Limoncello Kaltsounia or Lihnarakia 

Kaltsounia or Lychnarakia are Cretan cookies, traditionally made during Easter. They have a sweet pastry shell and are filled with anthotyro (ricotta).

Preparation time: 1 hour

Baking time: 25 – 30 minutes

Makes: 24


For the pastry shell

  • ¼ cup lukewarm milk
  • 8 grams dried yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 100 grams butter, reserve 1 tsp for filling
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons yoghurt
  • 500 grams self raising flour

For the filling

  • 500 grams anthotyro
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 egg beaten, (reserve just a little to brush on top)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons limoncello
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • Egg for brushing on top
  • Cinnamon for top


  1. In a small bowl add yeast, sugar and milk and mix. Leave it for a few minutes until it bubbles.
  2. In the mixer bowl beat the butter and sugar.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time until incorporated and then add the yoghurt.
  4. Add the yeast mixture and finally the flour and salt until the dough is ready. The dough should be soft but not sticky on the hands.
  5. In the mixer bowl mix the anthotyro with sugar.Add the honey and the egg and whisk.Add cinnamon, vanilla, lemon zest and limoncello and mix whisk creamy.
  6. Roll out the dough and cut into disks about 10 cm in diameter. Fill in with 1 heaped teaspoon of filling leaving about 1 cm edge. With your two fingers pinch the dough in order to form sort of pleats. Start with making four. One above, one below, one left and one right and then between each fold make two more.
  7. Place on a baking tin, lined with parchment paper. Brush with the egg and sprinkle some cinnamon on top.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for about 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown.


This recipe also goes to Rosa, of Rosa’s Yummy Yums, for her even Pastries For Peace.

This recipe also goes to Susan of Food Blogga for her event Eat Christmas Cookies, Season 3


Other relevant recipes:

Greek Anthotyros and Fig Muffins

Sweet Cream Cheese Pie

Moustokouloura me Anthotyro (Grape must cookies with cheese)

Bourekia me Freskia Anari (Pastries filled with anthotyro cheese and cinnamon)

Kolokythopita me Myzithra (Savory Pumpkin and cheese pie)


Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!

signature Ivy

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Jess and Brandon

Monday 2nd of February 2015

Wow, they look to die for. Your recipes are amazing. Thank you for sharing this with us.


Monday 14th of December 2009

What a unique filling -- limoncello and cheese! My mouth is watering already... lovely cookies. Happy Holidays!

Peter G

Wednesday 9th of December 2009

Nice one Ivy...Limoncello is a favourite liqueur of mine.


Wednesday 9th of December 2009

Mmm these look alot like an Algerian sweet but with lemon not almond filling. I wonder if it would tatse nice with your lemon curd filling also?

Lisa Henderson

Wednesday 9th of December 2009

These sound delicious. I don't think I can get this cheese in Austria. Can I substitute it with ricotta?

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