“It was December 31, the last day of the year. Cheerful pedestrians were marching hastily on snow-covered roads carrying colorful wrapped gifts… But no one paid attention to the young, poor girl who was trying to sell matches on the street… It was getting darker and everybody was in a hurry to enjoy the company of their loved ones inside their happy homes, to grab marvelous food and sweet delights from their festive tables, to watch the sparkling lights of their fancy decorated Christmas trees…”
GreekReporter modifies the well-known fairy tale of Hans Christian Andersen “The Little Match Girl,” giving the story a new twist. Taking the little girl by the hand, we invite her at our “home” and give her a special gift. We reveal all our New Year’s Eve dinner table specials to her and together we taste our favorite Greek holiday sweets, drizzled with honey syrup and sprinkled with icing sugar. Come enjoy with us!
Vasilopita (Greek New Year’s Cake)
Adapted from: Argiro Barbarigou
250 g butter (at room temperature)
1 cup of sugar
orange juice (from 2 oranges)
orange zest (from 2 oranges)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup of raisins
500 g self-rising flour
a pinch of salt
icing sugar for powdering
1. Preheat the oven at 338 degrees Fahrenheit (170 degrees Celsius).
2. Put the sugar and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for about 6-7 minutes.
3. Slowly incorporate the butter.
4. Add the baking soda into the orange juice, and, after a while, put them in the mixing bowl.
5. The orange zest and a pinch of salt are your next additions.
6. Put the flour and beat until you have a thick batter.
7. Immediately after, add the chopped walnuts and raisins.
8. Pour the batter in a buttered and floured baking pan (30 or 32 cm).
9. Bake for about 45-50 minutes.
10. Once cooked, sprinkle the cake with some icing sugar.
Tip! Don’t forget to put a hidden coin or trinket inside the batter for good luck.
Kourabiedes (Greek Butter Cookies)
Adapted from: Elias Mamalakis
300 g all-purpose flour
150 g butter
2 g vanilla extract
60 g icing sugar
100 g almonds
40 g icing sugar and 2 g vanilla extract for powdering
1. Preheat the oven at 356 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
2. Mix the butter with the icing sugar until light and fluffy using a mixer.
3. Add, one by one, the vanilla extract, flour and almonds, and mix well until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
4. Shape into rounds, or cut out different shapes with Christmassy cookie cutters.
5. Place the cookies on a tray lined with baking parchment paper and bake for about 25 minutes or until browned.
6. Take the cookies out of the oven and place them on a Christmas platter.
7. Sprinkle with icing sugar and vanilla extract.
Melomakarona (Greek Honey Cookies with walnuts)
Adapted from: Stelios Parliaros
For the dough:
400 g orange juice
530 g vegetable or olive oil
1200 g all-purpose flour
30 g icing sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon (or more)
1/6 tsp ground cloves
50 g melted butter
orange zest (from 1 orange)
For the syrup:
500 g water
700 g sugar
1 orange (cut in two pieces)
2 cinnamon sticks
100 g honey
1. First of all, prepare the syrup. In a saucepan, combine the water, sugar, orange (both pieces) and cinnamon sticks.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil and leave it for about 1 minute. Then, pour in the honey and let it cool.
3. Preheat the oven at 356 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
4. Place the vegetable or olive oil, orange juice and butter in a large mixing bowl.
5. Add the icing sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves and orange zest.
6. Slowly incorporate the flour, little by little, until the mixture forms a dough (not too loose but not quite firm either).
7. Take small portions of the dough, shape in your palms and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
8. Bake for about half an hour until lightly browned.
9. When the cookies are ready and while they are still warm, float them in the syrup and allow them to absorb as much syrup as possible (for 1 minute or more).
10. Remove the cookies from the syrup and place them on a Christmas platter.
11. Sprinkle the cookies with ground walnuts and cinnamon while adding a little more honey.