Greek Almond Macaroons with Chocolate Mousse Filling

I've been wanting to make my Greek Almond macaroons, or amygdalota as they are called in Greece, with some type of a filling.  In Greece I had them with mastic filling (resin from the mastic trees on Chios island).  It's a sweet spoon dessert that's served on a spoon over ice cold water, mostly during the summer hot months.  It's chewy and very sweet. That's why you need a glass of cold water to accompany it and wash it down.  Unfortunately, I didn't think of bringing a jar of the sweet mastic dessert back with me.  And so far, I haven't figured out how to make that mastic spoon dessert ... well not yet any way.  

Since everyone in my family loves chocolate including my granddaughter -- she is over a year old and has become my newest taste tester in my kitchen -- I thought of making my chocolate mousse filling and use that.  Also, this time I thought of using almond meal instead of grinding almonds for the  cookies.  I used Bob's Red Mill almond meal.  It's a little easier and it doesn't make any difference in the cookies, either you use almond meal or finely ground almonds (if you'd rather use fine ground almonds, here is the link for that recipe: http://greekfusioncuisine.blogspot.com/2013/12/greek-almond-macaroons-ergolavi-or.html).  Also, both recipes are gluten free. 
And voila -- the cookies came out tasting chewy, as that is their trademark, and the chocolate mousse filling came out creamy.  So here is my take on Greek almond macaroons filled with chocolate mousse.  Enjoy! 

Ingredients (Makes 23 sandwiched servings – approx. 1.5 oz each )

3 cups almond meal
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 egg whites
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Chocolate mousse filling
1 envelope  dream whip
6 tbsp. icing sugar
3 tbsp. cocoa powder

Directions:
Melted butter for the cookie sheets and the palms of your hands to roll the cookies -- about 3 tbsp.

Beat the egg whites with the sugar. Add the almond meal, and vanilla. Mix well together. Grease 3 cookie sheets generously with butter. Also, grease your palms with butter while shaping the cookies. Shape them into 1 1/4" balls. Roll in slivered almonds. Place on cookie sheet far apart. Cookies will spread.

Bake at 325 degree oven for 20-25 minutes till the edges are brown and they are firm to the touch. Remove from the oven. Let them cool and place them in an airtight container or they will dry out. 

This recipe will make about 46 cookies.  Sandwiched together with the chocolate mousse you get about 23 cookies.

Chocolate mousse:
Beat 1 envelope of dream whip topping according to package directions. When soft peaks form, add the cocoa powder and icing sugar. Beat well till it's all incorporated. Refrigerate.

When the cookies are cooled take one tablespoon (approx.) of the chocolate mousse and spread on bottom of cookie. Take another cookie and sandwich together. When done, refrigerate them in air tight containers.

Nutrition Facts (the nutritional value is per sandwiched cookie--each cookie alone is about 80 cal)
Serving Size 1 serving (40.2 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 174
Calories from Fat 84
Total Fat 9.3g
Saturated Fat 1.1g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 6mg
Potassium 155mg4%
Total Carbohydrates 21.3g
Dietary Fiber 2.4g
Sugars 17.9g
Protein 4.4g





Feta and Artichoke Frittata

This is a great dish to make for a Sunday brunch or a luncheon with friends. Pair it with a crisp arugula salad and you have a meal. You can even pair it with a nice Chardonnay or even a mimosa.

Enjoy!

Ingredients (Makes 8 servings)
10 eggs
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped dill
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup shredded pecorino romano
2 cups crumbled feta
24 oz. frozen artichoke hearts defrosted
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 pinch nutmeg
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. bread crumbs*

Directions
In a bowl mix all ingredients together except the 1 tsp. olive oil and bread crumbs.

In a spring form pan brush the olive oil and sprinkle the bread crumbs. Pour the mixture in the spring form pan. Place the spring form pan on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 350°oven for 45-50 min or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Nutrition FactsServing Size 1 serving (204.4 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 271
Calories from Fat 152
Total Fat 16.9g
Saturated Fat 9.7g
Cholesterol 248mg
Sodium 837mg
Potassium 571mg
Total Carbohydrates 13.8g
Dietary Fiber 5.5g
Sugars 3.0g
Protein 18.2g

*Note: you can use gluten free breadcrumbs





Greek honey balls-loukoumades-drizzled with honey and cinnamon

Loukoumathes (pronounced loo-koo-mah-thes) is one of the most common and easiest desserts to make. Every restaurant in Greece will offer loukoumathes as a dessert after a meal, and sometimes as a token from the restaurant owners to its patron’s for eating there.
The last time I had loukoumathes in Greece was on one of my recent trips there. The loukoumathes I had were enormous. They were more like a large donut than the traditional “donut hole” shape they usually have. Those loukoumathes were large enough for 2-4 people to share.

Loukoumathes can be eaten drizzled with honey or sugar syrup, or even drenched in plain sugar. At the beaches in Greece, there are stands that sell loukoumathes drenched in sugar and cinnamon. A sweet treat to break the day between swimming in the blue waters of the Aegean sea and sunbathing under the warm Greek sun. Other times they can be served along with ice cream, crushed walnuts and/or pistachios.

They are best served warm. Enjoy!

Ingredients (Makes 50 servings)
1 pkg active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. lemon rind
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup canola oil*

Directions
Mix the yeast with 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Let it stand for 1/2 hour till dissolved and bubbly.

In a large bowl sift together the flour, with the baking soda, baking powder, salt, lemon rind and sugar. When the yeast is dissolved add it to the dry ingredients along with the 1.5 cups of lukewarm water. Mix well with a mixer on medium speed for a couple of minutes till all the ingredients are well incorporated. Cover with a towel and let it stand in a warm place for 2 hours.

Heat up about 1 cup of canola oil in a frying pan. With two spoons dipped in water take some of the dough and drop it in the hot oil. Continue to drop the dough by the spoonful, but make sure you don't overcrowd the pan. Fry them till they are lightly brown turning them over until both sides are cooked. Lower the heat if you think that you don't drop them fast enough. When browned, remove from the oil and place them in a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the extra oil.

Serve warm drizzled with honey and cinnamon.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (19.6g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 47
Calories from Fat 21
Total Fat 2.3g
Saturated Fat 0.2g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 37mg
Potassium 16mg
Total Carbohydrates 5.8g
Dietary Fiber 0.2g
Sugars 0.1g
Protein 0.8g

Note: * for the calories to be correct on the frying portion of this recipe, I only logged in ½ cup of canola oil. I added 1 cup canola oil in the frying pan but only used ½ cup for the frying.

Note: **if you prefer to serve the honey balls with sugar syrup, the recipe for this is below the picture.


Syrup**
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick

Make the syrup
Pour the sugar, water and cinnamon stick in a pan and bring to a boil stirring constantly. Lower the heat to medium and let it cook for 10-15 minutes while stirring. The syrup should be clear by the time you are done, and very slightly reduced. Remove from heat. Drizzle over hot loukoumathes.

Greek Easter Cookies-Koulourakia Me Lemoni-Butter Lemon Cookies

These are very traditional Greek Easter cookies. They are similar to the ones that I posted before, Koulourkakia Portokaliou-Greek Easter Cookies
but this time I didn't have oranges, since our Easter is in May, so I improvised and used lemon rind. They came out tasting delicious. They are great with coffee and also good after that big Easter meal of lamb and potatoes, and tzatziki, (you will find the post here Smyrneika Soutzoukakia in Domatosaltsa - Sausages from Smyrna in Tomato Sauce and as appetizers with Tzatziki sauce) and Spinach Cheese pie (Spanakotyropita).

Kalo Pascha!

Enjoy!

Ingredients (Makes 36 servings)

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) softened at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tbsp. grated lemon rind
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups white flour
1/4 cup white flour for kneading
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp. milk
Sesame seeds (about 2 tbsp.)

Directions

Bring the butter to room temperature. Don’t melt it in the microwave or over the stove. For the butter cookies to come out well and be pliable the butter has to be room temperature.
Shift the flour with the baking powder in a bowl. Set aside.
In in mixer add the butter and the sugar and beat well together till light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add the lemon rind and vanilla and beat well. Slowly add the flour, and beat well. The dough should be pliable in your hands. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a clean surface. Sprinkle some of the ¼ cup flour on your hands and the kneading surface and knead the dough adding flour as needed till it doesn’t stick to your hands. Refrigerate for 30 minutes for the dough to rest. Cut a small piece of the dough and roll it out with your hands into a long rope. Twist the dough by bending it at the half point and bring the one end over the other until it forms a twist. Place them in a greased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Brush them with the beaten milk/egg yolk mixture and sprinkle them with sesame seeds.
Bake at 375 degree oven for 20 minutes till golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool. You can put them in an airtight container to keep them soft and crumbly. They can last up to 3 months.

Note: you can shape these cookies into any shape you like. Rounds, ovals or twists. Twists are very common shapes in Greek Cookies.

Nutrition FactsServing Size 1 serving (34.8 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 138
Calories from Fat 51
Total Fat 5.7g
Saturated Fat 3.4g
Cholesterol 33mg
Sodium 42mg
Potassium 66mg
Total Carbohydrates 19.9g
Dietary Fiber 0.4g
Sugars 8.4g
Protein 2.1g