One of the things we enjoy the most during this holiday season is baking. There is something quite unique when the house fills with aromas. Especially when it comes to these spices we have associated with this time of the year. Yes, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, pepper, all these fragrant spices make us feel even more festive.

This week we have prepared cookies! Soft and moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside. But as cookies go, you can of course go for the crunch throughout. Just let them bake for a few more minutes. For these cookies we have used one of our favourite ingredients, grape molasses. When I was growing up, my father would prepare for me and my sister a slice of bread, with a thin layer of butter and grape molasses on top. The memory of this intense and strangely fragrant syrup always comes to mind when I open a bottle of grape molasses and smell it. And to this day, I find it very hard to describe its unique taste.

But back to the cookies.

The recipe below is adapted from Bon Appetit. We used a mixture of our favourite spices, but as always, feel free to substitute. If you love cinnamon, just use cinnamon, if you hate cloves, just make it without.

For 20 cookies you will need:

100g dark brown sugar
110g unsalted butter
½ egg
55g grape molasses
60g whole wheat flour
75g white flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 tsp mixed spices (we used a combination of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, pepper)

1 tbsp milk, 1 tbsp grape molasses and icing sugar (optional, to glaze)

 

Whisk together both flours, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.

In a separate bowl beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and whisk just to combine. Add molasses and whisk again until incorporated.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to your mixture, carefully so as not to over-mix.

Place in the fridge for at least an hour.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat your oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Using your hands, form small or larger balls and place them on your tray, leaving space in between your cookies as they will expand. Bake for 7-12 minutes, or until you have reached your desired softness.

If you want to glaze them, stir the milk and grape molasses until well combined. Slowly add powdered sugar until your glaze is thick and glossy. Drizzle over cool cookies.


Melomakarona is one of the most popular treats throughout Greece during the festive season.Their intense homely smell makes every house smell like Christmas! This is an easy, healthy and easy recipe based on olive oil and honey.

Makes: 20-25 cookies

½ cup olive oil (175ml)
½ cup brown sugar (100g)
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (120ml)
1 tbs orange zest
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda

2 tbs brandy
4 cups flour (about 450g)
1 cup (120g) chopped walnuts
(½ for the mix ½ for topping)
2 tbs cinnamon (½ for the mix ½ for topping)
½ tsp powder clove (½ for the mix ½ for topping)

For the syrup:
1 cup honey
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup of water

This is a traditional Christmas cookie recipe. You will find it in every home in Greece at Christmas time.

Mix the flour, baking powder in to a bowl. Mix baking soda into the orange juice. Mix the oil, sugar, orange juice, brandy and orange zest and pour gradually into the flour mixture. Mix all the ingredients gently, without kneading to create a soft dough. Add cinnamon and clove in the mixture.

Make the dough into little cookie balls. Remember that these will rise so keep them small. Put the cookies into a tray covered with greaseproof paper. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown.

Meanwhile make the syrup. Put the honey, sugar and water into a large pot. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes skimming off the froth. Let it cool down a little bit. Take the cookies out of the oven and put them in a large plate. Pour the syrup immediately over them while they are still hot. When all the syrup is absorbed turn them over. Repeat the same procedure a few times until almost all of the syrup is absorbed.

For the topping mix cinnamon, clove and chopped walnuts and sprinkle over the top of the cookies. Let them cool down and store them away. They usually taste better a few days later and as they age. They can last up to 3 weeks.


Many say that Mastiha is an acquired taste. As an ingredient, these little rocks look like blurry diamonds. It is quite bitter in taste and very, very aromatic. So one needs to use it with care. A little goes a long way. You can make cakes with mastiha, cookies, use it in cooking as well (it actually goes very well with chicken).

When discussing recipes for this blog post, we decided to go for cookies. But not any cookies. These ones are made with olive oil instead of butter, grape molasses instead of sugar. And orange juice! I call them cookies because they have a very soft and chewy interior. I think the secret is the combination of olive oil, grape molasses and water. Oh and yes, these cookies are vegan too!

They are quite something. You can play around with the dough and make smaller cookies, or, experiment a bit. Shape the dough like a bagel by taking a large round ball and making a hole. Just make sure to bake the larger cookies a few minutes longer. You can eat them as is, or try them with our soft, creamy galomizithra cheese  and some orange blossom honey. And before you start gathering your ingredients, have a read at the story of mastiha. Somehow, images of mastihohoria, the villages on the island of Chios that produce mastiha from centuries ago give this resinous sap a whole different aroma.

For 45 cookies you will need:

1 cup olive oil 

1 cup grape molasses 

1 cup water

1 orange (both zest and juice)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp mastic tear drops (ground)

700g of all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

You can buy mastic tear drops from our shop at Borough Market. These can be ground using a mortar and pestle by adding a few pinches of sugar, so that they don’t stick together. Alternatively you can add 1/4 teaspoon (3-4 drops) of our pure mastic oil. Taste and add more if you want a more intense flavour.

In a bowl, whisk together your olive oil, grape molasses, water, orange juice and zest, until you have a smooth mixture. In a separate bowl sieve the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and mastiha. Mix until well combined until just smooth. Be careful not to over mix the dough.

Slowly incorporate your dry ingredients onto your wet ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon. You should have a slightly sticky dough that you can easily shape. Using a bit of flour, make small round balls, or larger bagel-shaped cookies.

Place some greaseproof paper onto your baking tray and place the cookies on top, leaving a few centimetres between them.

Bake for 10-15min at 180C until they are lightly brown – the centres will be soft. Once your cookies have cooled down a bit, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. You can have them straight away (please do!), or keep them in an airtight container.

 


Corinth raisins are tiny, black dried fruits, packed full of flavour and nutrition. Cultivated in the South of Greece, the name comes from the ancient city of “Corinth”. They are known as “Zante currants” in the States, Zante currants – Corinth raisins – Corinthian raisins or simply currants in the UK and Ireland.

There are three different types of dried grapes; currants, sultanas and raisins.  Currants are dried, dark red, seedless grapes.  Raisins are dried white grapes.  Sultanas are dried white grapes from seedless cultivars.

All three are produced around the world; Corinth raisins (or currants) are only produced in Greece. Continue reading →