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Guilty Pleasures: Christmas treats from Greece (part 2)

23 Dec

1. New Year Cake (Vassilopita)

Vasilopita, traditional Greek New Year Cake. Photo source: cookoo.gr

Vasilopita, traditional Greek New Year Cake. Photo source: cookoo.gr

The New Year Cake, or Vasilopita for the locals, is a round cake or tsoureki (something similar to the French brioche) that is served after the New Year festive meal. What makes it different from a normal cake is a coin hidden inside. The cake is cut in equal pieces, one for each convive, and whoever finds it is considered to have good luck for the new calendar year.

2. Melomakarono

 Melomakarono honey cookies. Photo source: k-mag.gr

Melomakarono honey cookies. Photo source: k-mag.gr

Melomakarono is a dark, egg-shaped cookie immersed in honey syrup and sprinkled with walnuts. This succulent cookie with delicate notes of cinnamon, clove and orange peel is totally worth the extra hour(s) at the gym after the end of the festive Christmas period! (We dare you to eat to just one.)

3. Kourabies

Kourabiedes sugar coated butter cookies. Photo source:  lifeanddecoration.blogspot.com

Kourabiedes sugar coated butter cookies. Photo source: lifeanddecoration.blogspot.com

Another quintessential Greek holiday cookie is kourabies. Kourabiedes (plural) are butter cookies with brandy and crispy roasted almonds hidden under a veil of powdered sugar. An ideal treat for every hour of the day, especially next to a hot cup of black coffee by the fire.

4. Diples

Typical Greek Diples sweets. Photo source: sidagi.gr

Typical Greek Diples sweets. Photo source: sidagi.gr

Diples are deep-fried thin sheets of dough usually given the shape of a roll or a bow. They are then drizzled with honey syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon, clove and ground walnuts. Diples are a typical dessert in the Peloponnese and Crete (usually called xerotigana) and apart from the Christmas holiday season are also served at traditional weddings or special occasions.

5. Sesame Baklava

Sesame Baklava from Thrace, Greece. Photo by Funky Cook

Sesame Baklava from Thrace, Greece. Photo by Funky Cook

Traditionally, Baklava is made with nuts and butter. In this special Christmas dessert from Thrace, nuts are replaced with sesame and butter with olive oil, making it appropriate for the Greek Orthodox fasting period. A delightful alternative you must absolutely try if you visit Thrace!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, and, if you decide to spend holidays in Greece (which we highly recommend), strength and courage for your post-holiday diet & workouts 🙂

Stella Printezi

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