As Christmas and New Year’s are around the corner, your thoughts will wander to all the delicacies your festive table will have to include. You choose among favourite dishes, you sincerely believe that they will tickle your guests’ tastebuds, while at the same time lending some holiday magic to your dinner table.
As you keep on contemplating your holiday menu - appetizers, main course, salads - you’ll finally reach the time when you’ll have to choose a dessert, which may or may not be simpler than the rest. In Greece, tradition has it that during Christmas guests are offered melomakarona and kourabiedes, while diples are served in Mani and Crete; these three are in the top list of sweets for the season!
Kourabies is a crunchy, buttery biscuit, with almonds in the middle and covered in caster sugar. This biscuit is a symbol of Christmas in Greece. As any sweet... its recipe has some secrets that will lead to success. Therefore next time you decide to make your own, keep these tips in mind:
Purchase goat or cow butter, as it is the most important ingredient of your recipe. High quality butter will do its magic as it will ensure a mouthwatering taste and tantalizing aromas.
Roast your coarsely chopped almonds in the oven.
Beat your butter and sugar well until you get a fluffy mixture.
Bake them until they reach a golden colour, not more not less, this is all you need to get that crunchy sensation.
Let your biscuits cool down before sprinkling with caster sugar.
Next to the “snowcapped” platter of kourabiedes, Greek tables are usually piled up with other pyramid-like plates with sweets on of which is melomakarona; sirupy biscuits sprinkled with crushed walnuts. Contrary to kourabiedes, which are served many in parts of Greece on several other occasions besides holidays - such as in weddings, baptisms or Easter - melomakarona are strictly connected to the Christmas and New Year's Holiday. Make them from scratch with our recipe but experiment yourselves: dip them in chocolate, add some ginger, beer, mandarin zest, or brown sugar. Melomakarona simply love new innovative ideas!
What you should keep in mind:
Use virgin olive oil, cinnamon, cloves and Greek thyme honey, which guarantee to make the difference.
Don’t over knead them or over bake them, as you want your melomakarona to have a smooth texture.
As for shapes,… improvise! Choose your favourite cookie cutter and create stars, moons or any other shape you prefer.
The syrup stage… needs mastery! Drop your biscuits in the hot syrup, when they’ve cooled down, just long enough to absorb some syrup but not too long as they will crumble!
Diples originate in the Peloponnese, particularly Mani, and is a traditional sweet, offered on a happy occasion as well as during the New Year’s celebration in order to welcome it with the sweetest manner possible! These sweets have taken their name by the way they are made, as diples means fold in Greek. The folded dough is cut in various shapes and sizes (bows, spirals, roses), then fried until golden and sprinkled with lots of honey syrup. On the island of Crete they are known as xerotigana or avgokalamara. Even though diples recipe is rather simple and doesn’t require many ingredients, this traditional sweet is not considered easy to make as you must be skilful in folding the dough!