Showing posts with label syrup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label syrup. Show all posts

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*

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.

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.

Baklava with walnuts and almonds and its History

The History of Baklava

Many will argue about the origins of Baklava. Greeks will attest it’s their own creation. Turks will say that the Greeks claimed it since it was perfected while Greece was under the Ottoman Empire for 400 years. Lebanese will make their own version of baklava by using an array of nuts like pistachios, walnuts, cashews or pine nuts. In other areas, they will use dough with eggs, or plain dough, unlike the “phyllo” dough. Greeks perfected the use of dough by inventing the “phyllo” dough, paper-thin sheets of dough (“phyllo” in Greek means “leaf”). A baklava recipe with the use of syrup with rose water and cardamom and a filling variety of nuts will most likely be from the Arab countries. The use of syrup with cinnamon and cloves with walnuts and almonds filling will be from the Balkan countries.

Even with all these declarations, it is believed that it was the Assyrians who came up with this dessert in 8 B.C. Greek seamen travelling to Mesopotamia, brought it to Athens and eventually they perfected it by developing the “phyllo” dough. Baklava reached the kitchens of the Byzantine Empire until its fall in 1453 A.D. Under the Ottoman Empire, baklava was served to the Pashas and the very rich. Eventually, the dessert reached the western world and was brought to America by Greek immigrants, or as others might say, by Turkish or by Lebanese immigrants. I’d like to believe that it was the Greeks who brought it to the Western world and since the Greeks perfected the paper-thin dough, I’d say it’s more of a Greek origin than any other.

There are areas in Greece that they use olive oil instead of melted butter to make baklava. I remember my mother and grandmother making baklava while I was young and they used clarified butter. The butter was made from pure cow’s milk. The color of the butter was white and not yellow like the butters we see here in the US. The ingredients, of course, were more organic back then.

I’ve seen and tasted many versions of baklava while here in the US. I tried the pistachio filled baklava, baklava drizzled with chocolate, baklava with pecans, but I’m partial to the Greek baklava with walnuts and almonds, or just plain walnuts as I remembered it from my childhood. This version of baklava is the way my mother and grandmother used to make with the only difference that I added the chopped almonds to the filling. I still use butter to brush between the phyllo dough sheets.

This is also a very traditional dessert to make during the Christmas holidays and Easter. With the Christmas holidays upon us, here is my version of Greek Baklava. Enjoy!

Baklava with walnuts and almonds

Makes 30 servings

8 oz phyllo dough
1 1/2 cups walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
3 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ground cloves
6 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup butter

30 whole cloves (optional)

MIx together the chopped walnuts, chopped almonds, sugar, cinnamon and ground cloves. Set aside.

Melt the butter. Brush a 12x7.5 pyrex pan with melted butter. Remove one of the two packages of phyllo dough from the box. You can refrigerate or freeze the other package. Open up the phyllo dough and cover it between two clean kitchen towels. Phyllo dough dries quickly, so it is best to keep it covered while working on the baklava. Take a sheet of phyllo dough and lay it on the pan. Brush with melted butter. Continue to layer the pan with approximately 10 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing them in between layers with butter, and extending the ends over the pan (like the Spinach Cheese pie (Spanakotyropita)).

Pour the walnut, almond/sugar mixture and spread evenly. Fold over the extended phyllo dough and layer the rest of the phyllo dough sheets, one by one by brushing in between with butter. Cut diagonally and place it in a preheated 350° oven for 45-50 minutes till golden brown. If desired you can place a whole clove in the middle of each piece before baking.

  Ready for the oven

The syrup

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
Rind of one lemon

Bring to a boil 2 cups sugar and 2 cups water. Add the cinnamon stick and the lemon rind. Boil for about 5 minutes till is slightly reduced and clear. Remove from heat.  Remove the cinnamon stick.

As soon as the baklava is cooked, take it out of the oven and pour the syrup over baklava while it's still warm. Wait for it to cool and serve.
Ready to serve

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 serving (49.8 g) approximately 1.8 oz
Amount Per Serving
Calories 148
Calories from Fat 59
Total Fat 6.5g
Saturated Fat 1.4g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 4mg
Sodium 49mg
Total Carbohydrates 21.5g
Dietary Fiber 1.2g
Sugars 16.0g
Protein 2.4g
...or ready to give as a gift!

Ravani - Greek Semolina Cake

I have been craving this cake for quite some time now.  So today, I decided to make it.  My mother used to make it often, while I was young.  The semolina gives it a different texture than any typical flour cake.  The lemony syrup (you actually don’t taste it a bit), gives it that extra flavor.  It’s not too sweet but it goes well with coffee, or as an afternoon snack. 


Ravani – Greek Semolina Cake with Lemon Syrup 

32 pieces (approximately 2.5oz each)

For the cake

1 cup unsalted butter melted, or at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs separated
1 cup milk
1 cup semolina flour (durum wheat)
1 and ½ cups flour
4 tsps baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
Rind of one lemon

For the syrup

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
Juice of ½ a lemon

The cake

Heat the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease a 9x13 ovenproof glass pan.

Preparation ingredients

Prepare the flour mixture by mixing the flour, semolina, and baking powder together.  Set aside.

Beat together the butter and sugar till creamy.  Add the egg yolks one at time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla extract and the rind of one lemon.  Add the flour mixture alternating with the cup of milk.  Beat well.  Set aside.

Beat together the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Fold the egg whites into the batter mixture until blended.  Pour the batter into the pan and bake at 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until it is lightly golden brown.  Or, if a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  (The cake will rise while baking). 
The batter and the greased pan

The batter in the oven proof pan, before it goes in the oven

The syrup

While the cake is baking prepare the syrup.  Pour the sugar and water 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.  Add the lemon juice and stir until dissolved. 

When the cake is done, let it cool for a while.  Cut into diamond shape pieces or squares and while it is still warm pour the syrup on top.  The cake will absorb all the syrup.  Serve with some icing sugar sprinkled on top, or just plain.

Out of the oven, cooled with the syrup and with some sprinkled icing sugar on top. 

Nutrition Facts*
Serving Size                                         1 serving(66.7 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories                                              176
Calories from Fat                                  59                                % Daily Value
Total Fat                                               6.6g                             10%
Saturated Fat                                       3.9g                             20%
Cholesterol                                           39mg                           13%
Sodium                                                 53mg                           2%
Total Carbohydrates                             27.8g                           9%
Dietary Fiber                                         0.4g                             2%
Sugars                                                 19.2g
Protein                                                 2.3g

*The nutrition facts include the syrup.