Each year I make a Christmas Cake, Melomakarona and Kourabiedes. Instead of making the same, over and over, I love tweaking my recipes, so I let my imagination run wild and turn them into something different each year. If you are looking for the traditional recipes you will find the links to my recipes at the end.
Unconventional Christmas Desserts: Christmas Cake, Melomakarona and Kourabiedes
I started my Christmas Cake rather late this year, that’s why it’s not ready yet. I am still at the stage of waiting for the almost paste to dry a little bit more before I add the final layer. This year I am going to attempt and dress it with fondant. I am not a fondant expert but my first attempt to make it was successful. Now I will have to see what I can create with the sugar paste. I will update the post on How to make sugar paste, after the holidays when I find some time.
What is interesting and different this year is that before the almond paste, instead of adding some jam on the cake, I created a spread using some of my leftover Chestnut and Dulce de Leche Spread, which I mixed with “threpsini”. Threpsini (or stafidini) is a spread made with raisins, vegetable fat, glucose and lecithin. These two spreads combined together resulted into a new spread which tasted amazing. It can be used on top or inside cakes, on bread, toast, crepes etc. As my chestnut and dulce de leche spread had small lumps of chestnut in it, I pulsed both in a food processor to make the spread creamy.
Melomakarona with Date Walnut Filling and Orange Walnut filling:
The recipe for my melomakarona is again adapted from my cookbook and exactly the same as last year’s Mandarin Melomakarona, with the exception that wherever mandarin is mention, this year it’s all orange.
I made two fillings this year: I used Spartan Orange Preserve which I finely chopped and combined it with walnuts.
The second filling is with dates. Whichever you choose to use, they are both delicious.
Date and Walnut filling
- 200 grams dates, stoned (weighed before removing the stone)
- 1 tablespoons blossom water
- 1 tbsp orange liqueur
- 100 grams walnuts, coarsely cut
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¼ tablespoon of ground cloves
- ½ tablespoon of cinnamon
- 60 grams (about 1 heaped tablespoon) butter or margarine
- Put the walnuts in a food processor and pulse a couple of times. Do not powder but coarsely chop them.
- Put them in a small pot.
- Put the dates in the food processor and add the liquid ingredients, that is the honey, blossom water and orange liqueur which will help to cut the dates into smaller pieces.
- Add them to the pot and combine with the remaining ingredients
- Cook until the butter melts, for 1 – 2 minutes mixing until all the ingredients are combined.
- Set aside to cool before using.
Each melomakarono weighed 35 to 38 grams. I flattened it into a disc, added a teaspoon of filling and sealed it. I then pressed it on a box grater to make the design.
You can find all the ingredients and instructions here.
Chocolate Kourabiedes with Buffalo Milk Butter
I made these chocolate kourabiedes back in 2011 but with so many things to do during the holidays I did not post the recipe that year and forgot all about them. This year as I was going through my files I discovered them again so I decided to make them again, with a few minor changes.
When I made the Spinach and Mushroom Tart a couple of months ago I used buffalo milk butter and the crust reminded me of kourabiedes. Since then, I made up my mind that I would make this year’s kourabiedes with buffalo milk butter. The packages I bought this time are 150 grams each. At the time I bought only two packets as they are quite expensive and added a little bit of Ariston shortening/butter to make the amount I wanted. I adjusted the ingredients a little bit. As you may see the amount of butter is a little bit more and the amount of flour is less as I removed an amount of flour in order to add the cocoa powder. Instead of adding more flour to adjust the amount of more butter, I added a little bit more almonds. Those 10 more grams I put them in the food processor with a little bit of flour and ground them into flour to cover the difference.
The addition of blossom water to wet them is optional. Use only pure citrus blossom water. Whenever I have bought blossom water from Greece it went down the drain because it is chemically made and not pure blossom water. The aroma of pure citrus blossom water is amazing so whenever I go to Cyprus I always bring some along and only use that one in my recipes.
In my cookbook I say 500 grams of icing sugar for sifting on top. Better more than less! However, if you sift the sugar gradually coating a small amount of kourabiedes each time, you can definitely reuse what is leftover to continue with the remaining.
I made a bigger batch in 2011 that’s why you can see some numbers on the recipe.
Chocolate Kourabiedes with Buffalo Milk Butter
Preparation time: 1 hour
Baking time: 25 minutes for each batch
Makes: About 50
- 300 grams buffalo milk butter*, at room temperature
- 100 grams shortening or butter (or 400 grams only buffalo milk butter)
- 135 grams blanched and roasted almonds
- 135 grams icing sugar
- 30 ml brandy
- ½ tsp salt
- 630 grams all purpose flour
- 50 grams cocoa powder
- 1 vanilla bean (or 10 drops of vanilla essence)
For the filling:
- ½ cup citrus fruit preserve, I used orange but you can use mandarin, Seville orange, bergamot, kumquat or other citrus, finely chopped
- 50 grams dark chocolate (72% cocoa), finely chopped
- Citrus blossom water
- 250 grams icing sugar
- 20 grams cocoa powder
- Blanche and roast the almonds in a preheated oven to 180 degrees C for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool and then coarsely cut in a food processor, adding a few tablespoons flour each time.
- Sieve the first amount of icing sugar. Then sieve the flour with cocoa powder and mix in the salt.
- Beat the butter with the icing sugar at high speed until it becomes white and fluffy. Add the brandy and vanilla and mix.
- Stop the mixer and switch to the dough hook. Add the almonds as well as the flour gradually until the dough is soft but not sticky on the hands.
- Wear latex gloves and weigh pieces of dough around 33 – 37 grams, which place on a non-stick surface.
- Place a piece of cling film on your working surface and flatten the dough about 1 cm. Add a little bit of orange preserve and chocolate. Take the two opposite sides of the cling film and fold the dough to enclose the filling. Then take it into your hands and shape them into round balls.
- Place them in a baking tin lined with parchment paper and bake for about 25 minutes.
- Set aside until they cool.
- Turn them over and spray with some citrus blossom water. Do the same on the other side.
- Transfer them in a dry tray and sieve some icing sugar. Turn them over and do the same. Place them in a platter and sieve a little bit of cocoa powder on top.
- Put the used icing sugar back in the sieve and continue the same procedure until all are coated.
Note: If you cannot find buffalo milk butter, you can substitute it with the same amount of ewe’s milk butter (which is the traditional one used) or cow’s butter. The taste of the final product may be different from the original as each butter has its own distinct flavour.
All three recipes are adapted from my Cookbook “Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste”.
You can find many Greek recipes in my cookbooks «More Than A Greek Salad», and«Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!» both available on all Amazon stores. Read more here.
Other relevant recipes:
Wishing you A Merry Christmas and happy holidays. Hopefully I will post another recipe before the end of the year.
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,