You may find yourself wondering which is the ideal vegan dessert to express or remember love for the Valentine’s Day. Chocolate, orange, lemon, vanilla, carob or caramel? Simply choose one (or more) of these vegan, mouthwatering desserts, prepare it with lot’s of love and offer it to yourself and to the person(s) you love.
Kourabiedes (plural: kourabiedes / singular: kourabies) – named after the Turkish word “kurabiye” which means a cookie made of flour, butter and sugar – are delicious “snowy” almond cookies, similar to shortbreads, that are traditionally prepared in almost every Greek house just before the Christmas holidays! Usually, nowadays, they are made with butter, flour, sugar and almonds, they are baked until golden, sometimes they are flavored with rosewater and then they are rolled in icing sugar so as to form their white, snowy coating. However many years before, when the butter was not easy to find in each and every part of Greece, people still enjoyed this treat but they used virgin olive oil instead of butter as olives are abundant in our country.
Actually the recipe that my grandma used to make contained olive oil, spices and orange zest and every time she baked them, the whole house was permeated by their aromas, making us even more impatient to have our first snowy treat. Since I went vegan I always prefer to make her recipe, although I have made some tiny changes, as kourabiedes made with olive oil are much healthier and foremost they are cruelty free. So instead of white sugar I like to use the unprocessed brown sugar and instead of the icing sugar I use coconut or almond flour for a healthier snowy coating, which also gives to the recipe a distinctive aroma and taste.
- 1 cup olive oil
- ½ cup brandy
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3 cups (about 450 g) all purpose flour
- ¾ cup peeled almonds, ground
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 ½ cups (200 gr) unprocessed brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
for the filling
- 1 ½ cups peeled almonds, chopped
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons unprocessed brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- ¼ -½ cup rosewater (optional)
- 1 ½ cups (150 gr) coconut or almond flour
1. In a bowl, add the oil, sugar, brandy and lemon juice and stir until sugar is dissolved.
2. Add in the mixture the baking powder, cinnamon, ground almonds and finally the flour, kneading with a spoon or with your hands until a soft, oily dough is formed. Usually it takes about 3 cups of flour but if the dough is not firm enough you may need to add a little more.
3. Mold the dough into a ball, cover it with a damp towel or a film and leave in a cool place to rest for at least 1 hour.
4. For the filling: In a bowl mix all the ingredients until they bind together.
5. Take small pieces of the dough (in the size of a small tangerine) and with each one of them form a disk of about ½ centimeter thickness with your hand. Place in the center 1 teaspoon of the filling and pull the ends of the dough to the center, so as to enclose the filling. Mold a little bit with your hands to seal and get the shape of a small bun.
6. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Place the buns, leaving 1.5 to 2 cm between them as they increase in volume during baking. Bake in preheated oven at 175 oC for 35-40 minutes or until they get a nice golden brown color.
7. Let them cool slightly and brush them with the rosewater. This step is not necessary but it is recommended.
8. When kourabiedes are completely cool, put the coconut flour in a bowl and dip them one by one so as to form a white coating. Place them on a platter and dust with the remaining coconut flour. Keep them for several days in an airtight container or in a platter covered with film.
Christmas are about to come, and for this reason, with the advent of December, many households are preparing the celebration. According to the tradition, special desserts are made during the period before Christmas and of course they differ from country to country. One of the most popular Christmas desserts here in Greece are the small honey cakes or melomakarona, not only for their great taste but also because of the spices they contain such as cinnamon and cloves, that create a sense of warmth and are almost synonymous with the Christmas atmosphere. The main basis for melomakarona consists of a crispy, aromatic biscuit, which once baked is submerged in hot, fragrant honey syrup to soften and absorb the aroma and the sweet taste. Finally melomakarona are sprinkled with chopped walnuts mixed with ground cinnamon and maybe ground cloves.
In order to make them gluten free I replaced the wheat flour with a mix of gluten free flours and to make them vegan and really peaceful, I substituted the traditionally used honey with grape molasses (petimezi) that blends beautifully with the rest of the ingredients. I really love this recipe as the result is absolutely delicious with a pleasantly moist and in the same time crunchy texture, without crumbling, while the taste is exactlyas it should be and probably none will notice that they do not contain gluten or honey. Note that the buckwheat flour that I suggest is a personal favorite because of its earthy fragrance – like being in the woods in the middle of the autumn – which is paired very nicely with the orange zest, cinnamon and grape syrup. However if you don’t like its characteristic smell, you can replace it with an equal amount of corn flour.
(about 20-25 pieces)
- 1 cup buckwheat flour or corn flour
- 1 1/2 cup brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch or white rice flour
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 80 ml orange juice
- zest of 1 orange
- 1/4 cup brandy or cognac
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
for the fragrant syrup
- 1 1/2 cup grape molasses or another liquid sweetener
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 stick cinnamon
- zest of an orange
- 1 cup walnuts, peeled
- 1/2-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- zest of an orange
1. In a bowl put olive oil, orange juice, sugar, cognac and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the baking soda and baking powder and mix well. Add the flour slowly, kneading with a wooden spoon or with hands. Shape a ball with the dough, cover with a damp towel or a clear film and leave in a cool place to rest for at least 1 hour.
2. Take small pieces of dough (in the size of a small tangerine) and form the melomakarona with 1,5-2 cm thickness. Traditionally they have the shape of an egg or a disc. Put them on a baking pan lined with parchment paper, leaving 1,5-2 cm between each other, as they are going to increase in volume during baking. Bake at 175 oC for 30 minutes or until golden.
3. For the syrup: Meanwhile in a saucepan put together all the ingredients for the syrup and simmer for 5 minutes over low heat.
4. Once the melomakarona are baked, immerse in the boiling syrup 4-5 at a time, depending on the diameter of your saucepan. Let them sit 3-6 minutes on each side and invert with a fork. Using 2 forks, remove the melomakarona from the syrup and put them on a plate. Repeat the process until all the melomakarona are immersed in the syrup.
5. Mix walnuts with cinnamon, cloves and orange zest. Once the melomakarona are slightly cooled, dip them in the walnuts – spices mix and put on a platter. They can be eaten immediately, but they become even more delicious the day after! You can keep them in air tight container for more than a week.