The Best Carrot Cake (Easy + Tips)

There’s nothing quite like homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! This scrumptious carrot cake is remarkably moist and ridiculously easy to make! It would be a perfect Mother’s Day gift, too!

carrot cake

This super simple, made-from-scratch carrot cake is wonderfully spiced, moist, and delicious. It’s topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting which is decadently luscious and fluffy.

I will never forget the first time I made this cake! I had recently gotten married and I wanted to make it for my husband because he had never tried it before. When I mentioned it to him, his response was something along the lines of …

“Carrots in a cake! Who on Earth would put carrots in a cake! That sounds  gross!”

So, I ignored him and made it anyway. Of course, after he tried it, he immediately became a carrot cake convert! It’s now his favorite cake – he even likes it more than chocolate cake! Go figure!

OMG! This cake!

You will absolutely LOVE it, too! I’m sure it will become your new go-to carrot cake recipe!

Instead of 2 layers, you could make the cake in a 9 x 13 inch (23 X 33 cm) pan or even a tube pan.

But I think a 2 layer cake is really pretty and impressive, though, don’t you?

carrot cake

This cake is made with only a few, simple ingredients.

Here’s what you’ll need:

flour

sugar

baking soda

ground cinnamon & ground nutmeg

salt

vegetable oil

eggs

milk

grated carrot

unsweetened, shredded/ground coconut

a few whole walnuts or pecans (to decorate)

Ideas for Add-ins

If you wish, you could add some raisins, chopped walnuts/pecans, or even toasted nuts. To be honest, though, I always avoid these add-ins because I feel they overpower the spices in the cake. Also, I find that the cake isn’t as tender with the add-ins, but this is my own preference. Feel free to add in whatever you like.

THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP FOR THE BEST CARROT CAKE EVER

Why use freshly grated carrots? Can’t I just finely chop them in a food processor?

This is really important – probably the greatest tip I could ever give!

YOU NEED TO GRATE THE CARROTS BY HAND – DO NOT FINELY CHOP THEM IN A FOOD PROCESSOR!!!

I cannot stress this enough!

I once experimented to see how this cake would turn out if I put the carrots in the food processor instead of grating them by hand. I mainly did this so that I could save some time, which I did, but …

the result???  A COMPLETE FLAVOR DISASTER!!! Why? Let me explain.

See all those tiny pieces of shredded carrots popping out in the photo below?

carrot cake

When I put the carrots in the food processor instead of shredding them by hand, I could barely see them in the cake. And worst of all, I could barely taste them! When the carrots are chopped so small, they’re practically invisible in the cake – almost as if they’re not in the cake at all!

Finely grated carrots by hand, though, will add just the right texture without making the cake crunchy.

So, I vowed NEVER to do that again and I promised to warn all fellow home bakers whenever I get the chance!

That time has come, my friends!

Bottom line: GRATE YOUR CARROTS BY HAND USING A BOX GRATER – DO NOT FINELY CHOP THEM IN A FOOD PROCESSOR!

More Tips for Carrot Cake Success

  • Make sure all your ingredients have come to room temperature before you begin.
  • Measure the flour correctly! Too much flour can make the cake dry and crumbly, and too little can make it dense and cause it to fall while baking.
  • Weighing all the ingredients with a digital scale will give consistent results.
  • Peel the carrots before grating them. Otherwise, they’ll leave a bitter aftertaste in the cake.
  • Avoid using packaged shredded carrots because they tend to be drier and thicker than freshly grated carrots. Freshly grated carrots add moisture and help make the cake moist. When you grate the carrots by hand, you’ll notice they’re a bit wet. This is what we’re looking for!
  • The secret to a super moist carrot cake is vegetable oil! Butter or margarine will not give the same results.
  • Do not overmix the batter. Mix everything until just combined.
  • Let the cakes cool in their pans for about 15 minutes. Then remove the cakes from the pans and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. This will ensure you don’t damage them so they look pretty when it comes time to decorate!

How to Freeze Unfrosted Cakes

You can easily freeze the cakes if you want to plan ahead for a future event.

  • Make sure the cakes have cooled completely.
  • Tightly wrap each cake layer in plastic wrap and then put them in sealable freezer bags. The cakes can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To thaw, put the cakes in the refrigerator overnight or let them come to room temperature, about 3 hours.

 TIPS FOR THE BEST CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

This cream cheese frosting is slightly tangy and goes so well with carrot cake. All you need is butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and powdered sugar. You can use salted butter if you want to balance the sweetness.

I also suggest using full-fat cream cheese as opposed to the low fat kind because it helps to make the frosting thick. This frosting is perfectly spreadable, but if you want to decorate the cake with a piping bag, just put it in the refrigerator (covered) for about half an hour to stiffen it up a bit.

Tips for Assembling & Decorating the Cake

  • Before I pour the batter into each pan, I weigh it first and then divide it equally between both pans. This not only ensures that the cakes are the same size and weight, but they will also bake evenly.
  • If you want to get fancy, you could trim the cakes to make them flat on the top and then save the trimmings, but I don’t usually bother.
  • Make sure the cake has cooled completely before frosting it. If you frost the cake while it’s still warm, you’ll end up with a melted, messy, cream cheese frosting!

I hope you enjoy this amazing carrot cake!

~Voula

Let me know how this carrot cake turned out for you in the comments.

I’d love to hear from you!

The Best Carrot Cake (Easy + Tips)

There’s nothing quite like homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting! This scrumptious carrot cake is remarkably moist and ridiculously easy to make! It would be a perfect Mother’s Day gift, too!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time2 hrs
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: carrot cake, cream cheese frosting, Mother's Day, homemade,
Servings: 10 - 12

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 2½ cups (320 g / 11.3 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups (300 g / 10.6 oz) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoonground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup light vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 ½ cups (265 g / 9 oz) grated carrots (about 4-5 large carrots), peeled first
  • ½ cup (60g) unsweetened, shredded/ground coconut
  • about 20 whole walnuts or pecans (optional)

For the frosting

  • 225 g (8oz) full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ½ cups (560 g / 1lb 1.4 oz) powdered sugar, plus an extra ½ cup if needed

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 325 °F / 165°C.
  • Grease & lightly flour 2 8-inch (20 cm) pans & line them with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  • Add the oil, eggs (one at a time), and milk. Beat on low speed until well combined, scraping the bowl often. Add the carrots and the coconut and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl once or twice. Do not overmix.
  • Weigh the batter and pour equal amounts into the prepared pans.
  • Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Let them cool in the pans for about 15 minutes. Then remove the cakes from the pans and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the cream cheese frosting

  • Beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla on low speed until smooth and creamy.
  • Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl often.
  • Add the extra ½ cup powdered sugar if you want the frosting a bit stiffer and thicker.
  • Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 days.

Assemble & frost the cake

  • Place a cake layer on a platter or a cake stand. Top with half of the frosting. Place the other cake layer on top and use the remaining frosting to frost the top. Decorate with whole walnuts or pecans.
  • Store in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 5-6 days.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

Baking time
All ovens are different, so baking times may vary. Check on the cake after about 45 minutes.
To freeze unfrosted cakes
Make sure the cakes have cooled completely.
Tightly wrap each cake layer in plastic wrap and then put them in sealable freezer bags. The cakes can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To thaw, put the cakes in the refrigerator overnight or let them come to room temperature, about 3 hours.
To freeze the cream cheese frosting
The cream cheese frosting can be frozen for up to 2 ½ months. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator and beat it for about a minute to make it creamy.
© Pastry Wishes
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KOULOURAKIA – GREEK EASTER COOKIES (Tips & Various Designs)

Koulourakia are traditional Greek cookies that are popular during Easter! They are buttery and crunchy, with hints of vanilla, orange juice, and freshly grated orange zest in every bite!

koulourakiagreekeastercookies

You’ll see these butter cookies on almost every Easter table in Greece!

Koulourakia (pronounced kou-lou-RA-kee-a) are traditionally shaped by hand into gorgeous twists, braids, rings, and lots of other designs.

They are pretty simple to make. I think it would be really fun to get the kids involved in making all the different designs, too!

Here’s what you’ll need to make Koulourakia

  • unsalted butter
  • sugar
  • vanilla
  • eggs
  • milk
  • orange juice
  • baking powder
  • all-purpose flour
  • salt
  • orange zest (optional)
  • cognac (optional)

SUPER TIP

A secret to making these cookies is to rub the orange zest into the sugar by hand and then mix it with a hand mixer. I always do both in order to release all the aromatic oils from the zest. And the smell – OMG! You will be amazed! The sugar becomes so fragrant! It really helps make the cookies taste and smell INCREDIBLE. If you want a more vanilla flavor, though, you can omit the zest altogether.

KOULOURAKIA DESIGNS

I make a variety of traditional designs, but this year, I also wanted to make Easter bunny, too!

I honestly don’t remember where I first came across this Easter bunny, so I can’t take credit for the design, but it is so cute! Here’s a step-by-step tutorial I made.

HOW TO MAKE A CUTE EASTER BUNNY

bunnycookietutorial

Want more traditional Greek designs? Check out the picture below for some ideas!

koulourakiadesigns

MAKE AHEAD OPTION

If you don’t have enough time to make the koulourakia in one day, just cover and store the dough in the refrigerator and continue the following day.

Here’s what I do:

I weigh each piece of dough (around 35 g / 1.2 oz). It should be about the size of a walnut. By weighing each piece, all the cookies bake evenly because they’re the same size.

After that, I put all the dough balls in a large bowl, cover them with plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator.

The next day, I take the dough balls out of the refrigerator and soften each ball a little bit in my hands. Then I make different designs and bake.

koulourakiagreekeastercookies

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

  • Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature.
  • I highly suggest you weigh the ingredients using a digital scale before you begin to get consistent results.
  • For fluffy and crunchy cookies that won’t crumble apart, you really need to beat the butter and the sugar together for at least 10 minutes
  • Only use as much flour as needed for the dough to come together. There are a few factors that can affect how wet the dough is such as the size of the eggs you use. Therefore, you might need more flour to make the dough pliable so it doesn’t stick to your hands. If more flour is needed, add it a tablespoon at a time.
  • Do not overmix the dough because it can make the cookies hard.
  • The dough needs to rest for about 20-30 minutes. This will make it easier to shape the cookies.
  • Weigh each piece of dough before shaping so that all the cookies are the same size & bake evenly.
  • Leave enough space between each cookie when you put them on a baking sheet, otherwise they may stick together as they bake. Place them at least 2 inches (5 cm) apart on the baking sheet.
  • Each oven is different and baking times may vary. For my oven, I bake the cookies one tray at a time, so I can keep an eye on all of them.
  • Don’t overbake the cookies. Take them out of the oven as soon as they turn light golden brown.

koulourakia

I really hope you enjoy these koulourakia! Have a wonderful Easter (Kalo Pascha)!

~Voula

MORE GREEK RECIPES!

KOULOURAKIA – GREEK EASTER COOKIES (Tips & Various Designs)

Koulourakia are traditional Greek cookies that are popular during Easter! They are buttery and crunchy, with hints of vanilla, orange juice, and freshly grated orange zest in every bite!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: Bunny cookie, Greek Easter Cookies, koulourakia
Servings: 40 cookies, approximately

Ingredients

  • 6 cups / 800 g / 1 lb 12.3 oz all-purpose flour (you may need 1-2 tablespoons extra)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • ½ tablespoon orange zest (optional)
  • 1 cup / 200 g sugar
  • 1 cup + 5 tablespoons / 300 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • ½ cup milk at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons cognac (optional)
  • ¼ cup / 60 ml orange juice at room temperature
  • a few whole cloves (1 for each bunny cookie)

FOR THE EGG WASH

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon water

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In another bowl, rub the orange zest with the sugar using your fingers. Then beat the sugar mixture on low speed for about a minute.
  • Add the butter to the sugar and beat on medium speed for 10 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Add the milk, vanilla, cognac, and orange juice and beat until well combined.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture, 1 cup at a time. Start beating on low speed with a hand mixer and then use a rubber spatula until the flour is just combined. At this point, if the dough is too wet or sticky, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time. The dough should be pliable and soft – not sticky. Don’t overmix the dough because it will make the cookies hard.
  • Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for about half an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 175 °C / 350 °F.
  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Weigh each piece of dough (about 35 g / 1.2 oz) before shaping to ensure all the cookies are the same size and bake evenly.
  • Make different shapes (see notes & photos in the post) and place them on the baking sheets. Make sure they are at least 2 inches (5 cm) apart.

MAKE THE EGG WASH

  • In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk with the water. Brush the tops of the cookies with the egg wash using a pastry brush. 
  • Bake the cookies for about 20-30 minutes or until light golden brown.
  • Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 ½ weeks.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • I highly suggest you weigh the ingredients using a digital scale before you begin to get consistent results.
  • For fluffy and crunchy cookies that won’t crumble apart, you really need to beat the butter and the sugar for at least 10 minutes
  • Only use as much flour as needed for the dough to come together. There are a few factors that can affect how wet the dough is such as the size of the eggs you use. Therefore, you might need more flour to make the dough pliable so it doesn’t stick to your hands. If more flour is needed, add it a tablespoon at a time.
  • Do not overmix the dough because it can make the cookies hard.
  • The dough needs to rest for about 20-30 minutes. This will make it easier to shape the cookies.
  • Each oven is different and baking times may vary. For my oven, I bake the cookies one tray at a time, so I can keep an eye on them.
  • Don’t overbake the cookies. Take them out of the oven as soon as they turn light golden brown.
© Pastry Wishes
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Vasilopita – Greek New Year’s Cake

Ring in the New Year with this easy, yummy, mildly spiced traditional Greek cake! It is the highlight of the New Year’s celebration among Greeks all around the world!

Vasilopita Greek New Year's Cake

What is Vasilopita?

Vasilopita (pronounced va-see-LO-pee-ta) is a traditional Greek New Year’s cake commemorating St. Basil. The name Basil in Greek is Vasili, hence the name Vasilopita, which means Basil’s cake/bread.

In Greece, there are two kinds of Vasilopita: a cake and a brioche-style bread.  Recipes and decorations vary from region to region. A coin is hidden inside the Vasilopita and whoever finds the coin in their slice is said to have good luck for the entire year!

Why is there a coin hidden inside?

St. Basil is believed to have started this tradition over 1500 years ago when he hid coins and jewelry in breads to give to the poor. This is why some Orthodox Christians exchange Christmas gifts on January 1 instead of December 25. You can read more about St. Basil here: https://www.oca.org/saints/lives/2019/01/01/100003-saint-basil-the-great-archbishop-of-caesarea-in-cappadocia

What are some of the customs associated with Vasilopita?

In Greece, eating Vasilopita is not just for families. Businesses, clubs, and associations also serve Vasilopita, where members or employees who find the hidden coin inside their slice are usually given money or a gift.

Some families serve it right after midnight on New Year’s Eve, while others serve it on New Year’s Day.

In my family, we always have it on New Year’s Day, with a big family dinner. When it comes time for dessert, you’ll  always find Melomakarona and Kourabiedes on the table, but the center of attention is the Vasilopita, where it is cut to bless the house for the New Year.

Vasilopita Greek New Year's Cake

What you’ll need:

Butter: I always use unsalted butter.

Flour & baking powder: I often use self-rising flour for convenience, but you can use all-purpose flour, too.

Spices: I use a combination of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

Fruit: Some orange zest and orange juice.

Alcohol: Cognac or Brandy.

Nuts: Chopped walnuts.

Sugar & salt: I use granulated sugar, powdered sugar and a pinch of salt.

Eggs: I use organic.

Vanilla: Some vanilla essence/extract.

Milk: I use skimmed milk, but you can use any kind of milk.

Coin & aluminum foil: A clean coin wrapped in aluminum foil.

White chocolate & food coloring: I used white chocolate mixed with some gel food coloring to write the year on the top of the cake, but this is optional.

How do you add the coin?

There are two ways to add the coin. One way is to wrap a coin with aluminum foil and put it in the batter before baking the cake. The other way is to insert the foil wrapped coin into the bottom AFTER the cake is baked.

I prefer adding the coin after the cake is baked because if you put the coin in the batter before baking, it will drop to the bottom of the pan. But if you insert the coin after the Vasilopita is baked, you ensure that it will be well-hidden inside and no one will be able to find it by looking at the bottom of their slice!

How do you decorate the Vasilopita?

For this Vasilopita cake you could just dust with powdered sugar, or you could write the year on top of the powdered sugar using melted chocolate, sliced almonds or even pomegranate seeds. You could also cover it with melted white chocolate.

Vasilopita Greek New Year's Cake

Happy New Year!

MORE GREEK RECIPES!

 Please let me know how this Vasilopita turned out for you in the comments! I would love to hear from you!

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Vasilopita - Greek New Year's Cake

Ring in the New Year with this easy, yummy, mildly spiced traditional Greek cake! It is the highlight of the New Year’s celebration among Greeks all around the world!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: Vasilopita, Greek, New Year's, Cake
Servings: 12 (approximately)

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 250 g (1 cup/ 8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (400 g /14 oz) granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract/essence
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • ¼ cup (55 ml/ 2 fl oz) cognac or brandy
  • 1 cup (250 ml / 8 fl oz) milk
  • 500 g (4 ¼ cups/ 18.2 oz) self-rising flour*
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ cups (200 g/ 7 oz) finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • a pinch of salt
  • a clean coin wrapped in aluminum foil

For the Topping

  • about 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • some pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • 100 g (4 oz) white chocolate, melted (optional)
  • 1-2 teaspoons light vegetable oil (optional)
  • some red gel food coloring (optional)

Instructions

  • Make the topping first. Add some vegetable oil to the melted chocolate and stir. Then add some red food coloring and mix. Add more oil if the chocolate gets too thick.
  • Put the melted chocolate in a piping bag or your container of choice and write the year on
    some wax paper. Set it aside and allow it to dry completely.
  • Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).
  • Grease and line a 26 cm (10 in) round pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, walnuts, spices and salt together. Set aside.
  • In another bowl, cream the butter with a hand mixer for about 1-2 minutes on low speed.
  • Add the sugar, and the orange zest to the butter and beat until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl frequently.
  • Then add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed for about a minute after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl a few times until everything is well incorporated.
  • Add the dry ingredients, the orange juice, the cognac/brandy, and the milk alternately to the butter mixture, beating on high speed until thoroughly combined. If you want, add the foil wrapped coin to the batter now, otherwise insert it after the cake is baked.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 – 50 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick in the middle comes out clean.
  • When the cake is done, take it out of the oven and allow it to cool completely.
  • Remove the cake from the pan, flip it over and remove the parchment paper. Add the foil wrapped coin now if you didn’t put it in the batter.
  • Place the cake on a plate and dust it with powdered sugar. Decorate with pomegranate seeds.
  • Gently remove the chocolate decorations from the parchment paper and place on the cake.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

*If self-rising flour is not available, you can use 4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour mixed with 4 teaspoons baking powder, instead.
Every oven is different, so baking times may vary. Check on the cake after about 40 minutes. Also please test to see if the cake is done by inserting a toothpick in the middle of the cake. You’ll know it’s done when it comes out clean.
© Pastry Wishes
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Kourabiedes Greek Butter Cookies

Kourabiedes Greek Butter Cookies (Easy! + tips & variations)

If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, these heavenly, festive almond cookies are just what you need! They are deliciously light and buttery and will make your Christmas cookie plate look amazing! Learn the secrets to making these melt-in-your-mouth cookies!

Kourabiedes Greek Butter Cookies

Kourabiedes (pronounced kou – rab – YE – des) are traditional Greek cookies made during Christmas. In some parts of Greece they are also handed out to guests at christenings and weddings.

They are a type of shortbread cookie filled with chopped almonds. A Christmas in Greece is not complete without melomakarona and kourabiedes!

They are one of the tastiest gifts I make for family and friends every year! And, kourabiedes are absolutely FANTASTIC with coffee!

You’ll only need 5 ingredients:

  • Butter
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Flour
  • Almonds

HOW TO MAKE KOURABIEDES – GREEK BUTTER COOKIES IN 5 EASY STEPS:

STEP 1: BEAT THE BUTTER AND POWDERED SUGAR

Beat the butter and powdered sugar on high speed for about 20 – 25 minutes. Then add the vanilla extract and mix.

STEP 2: ADD THE ALMONDS AND THE FLOUR

Add the almonds by hand and mix until just combined. Then add the flour, ½ cup at a time, and gently mix by hand until the dough forms into a ball and is pliable. If necessary, add more flour (you may need up to 4 cups). The dough should easily come off the sides of the bowl without sticking to it. Don’t overmix.

STEP 3: SHAPE

Divide the dough in half. Put half of the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it to a thickness of about an inch (2.5 cm). Cut out different shapes with a cookie cutter. Repeat with the remaining dough.

STEP 4: BAKE

Transfer the cookies to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in a preheated oven until just light brown. Allow the cookies to cool slightly.

STEP 5: DUST WITH SUGAR

Generously dust a cookie plate with powdered sugar. Add the cookies and dust with powdered sugar while they’re warm.

Kourabiedes Greek Butter Cookies

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

  1. Butter: Make sure the butter is at room temperature. You also really need to beat the butter and sugar together until it’s light and fluffy and that takes around 20 – 25 minutes on high speed. You want to incorporate as much air in it as possible.
  2. Flour: Mix the flour in by hand, but don’t overmix it because the cookie will become tough. Use just enough flour to make a pliable dough, so there may be extra flour that won’t be used.
  3. Almonds: Traditionally, almonds are roasted and then added to the dough, but I never roast them because they tend to become really hard after the cookies are baked. I always use chopped, blanched almonds in the dough.
  4. Dough: Cover the dough and let it rest for about 15 minutes. This will make it easier to work with. I always chill my sugar cookie dough to prevent spreading, but it’s not necessary for this recipe! These cookies will not spread because there are no leaveners, so you can bake them straight away without chilling the dough and save time! Without any leaveners, I found that these cookies are sturdier – this is especially important if you’re packaging cookies!
  5. Parchment paper: This is one of my favorite things in the kitchen. It makes baking easier! Traditionally, these cookies are shaped by hand into small mounds or crescent moon shapes, but I use parchment paper, instead! I roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and then use cookie cutters to cut out the cookies. This saves me so much time in the kitchen! First of all, there’s no mess because I don’t have to flour my work surface and it’s a lot faster and easier than shaping the cookies by hand.
  6. Baking: These cookies should be baked until JUST light brown in color, otherwise they can get hard.
  7. Dusting with powdered sugar: Allow the cookies to cool slightly before adding the powdered sugar. If you add the powdered sugar when the cookies come straight out of the oven, a damp layer of sugar will form, making them soggy on top.

 Variations

  • You could use almond extract or even ouzo instead of vanilla extract!
  • For chocolate kourabiedes, add 2-3 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the dough and mix by hand.
  • Many traditional Greek kourabiedes recipes call for rose water. If you’d like to add it to the kourabiedes, just sprinkle some rose water on the cookies as soon as they come out of the oven. Then let them cool slightly before dusting with powdered sugar.

Kourabiedes Greek Butter Cookies

Have a very Merry Christmas!

MORE GREEK RECIPES!

Please let me know how these kourabiedes turn out for you in the comments. I would love to hear from you!

KOURABIEDES - Greek Butter Cookies

If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, these heavenly, festive almond cookies are just what you need! They are deliciously light and buttery and will make your Christmas cookie plate look amazing! Learn the secrets to making these melt-in-your-mouth cookies!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: best, Kourabiedes Greek Butter Cookies Christmas Easy, shortbread, cookies
Servings: 45 cookies*

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250 g / 8.8 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (60 g / 2.1 oz) powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1 cup (5.3 oz / 150 g) blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (381 g) (you may need an extra cup (127 g)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Beat the butter and the sugar on high speed for about 20 - 25 minutes. 
  • Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
  • Add the almonds by hand and mix until it’s well combined. 
  • Add the flour**, ½ cup at a time, and gently mix by hand until the dough forms into a ball and is pliable. If necessary, add more flour (you may need up to 4 cups). The dough should easily come off the sides of the bowl without sticking to it. Don’t overmix.
  • Divide the dough in half. Put half of the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it to a thickness of about an inch (2.5 cm) . Cut out different shapes with a cookie cutter. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  • Transfer the cookies onto the baking sheets and bake until just light brown, about 10 – 15 minutes. 
  • Allow the cookies to cool slightly.
  • Generously dust a cookie plate with powdered sugar. Put the cookies on top and dust with powdered sugar while they’re warm. 
  • Enjoy!

Notes

These cookies will keep for up to 3 weeks stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
* The number of cookies this recipe makes depends on the size of your cookie cutter(s).
** Don’t add the flour all at once. Add about ½ cup flour at a time until the dough forms into a ball and is pliable. If necessary, add more flour. The dough should easily come off the sides of the bowl without sticking to it.
©Pastry Wishes
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Greek Christmas Cookies

Melomakarona – Greek Christmas Honey Cookies

These classic Greek Christmas honey cookies will fill your house with a warm aroma of spices! My comprehensive guide will break down all the steps, tips and tricks you need to make the perfect Greek honey cookies!

MELOMAKARONA – Greek Christmas Honey Cookies

These traditional Greek Christmas honey cookies are mildly spiced and dipped in a thick honey syrup.

Melomakarona (pronounced mel-o-ma-KA-ro-na) are traditional Christmas cookies that are popular all over Greece. They are thick cookies spiced with clove, nutmeg and cinnamon, and lightly soaked in syrup. If you haven’t made them before, you should definitely give them a try!

What you’ll need:

  • Flour: I use sifted, all-purpose flour together with fine semolina flour. 
  • Oil: I always use a combination of olive oil and light vegetable oil.
  • Spices: A combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
  • Fruit: Some lemon and orange juice, and some orange zest.
  • Alcohol: Cognac or Brandy (optional).
  • Sweeteners: I use powdered sugar, granulated sugar, and honey.
  • Nuts: Chopped walnuts.

Making melomakarona is pretty straightforward and the best thing is you don’t even need a mixer!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I make melomakarona without semolina flour?

Traditionally, melomakarona are made with a combination of all-purpose flour and fine semolina flour, but you could make them with just all-purpose flour. Keep in mind, though, that if you don’t use semolina flour, the texture inside will NOT be the same – it will be a bit crumbly. Semolina flour also helps absorb the syrup better as opposed to cookies made with just all-purpose flour.

Can I omit the alcohol?

Sure! Cognac really goes well with the spices in these cookies, but you can leave it out and still have great melomakarona! 

Why do you use powdered sugar in the dough instead of granulated sugar?

Powdered sugar dissolves a lot better than granulated sugar and results in a more denser cookie consistency, which is perfect for soaking up the syrup. Powdered sugar also contains cornstarch which helps prevent the cookies from spreading too much.

Why do you use a digital scale?

I always use a digital scale to weigh the dough for each cookie BEFORE I bake them. That way they ALL bake evenly at the same time. I think they also look nicer when I put them on a serving platter because they’re all the same size. If you don’t have a digital scale, try and make each piece of dough the same size before baking.

Should they be baked with or without a fan?

An oven with a fan (convection oven) is ideal because the air circulation from the fan creates a uniform temperature inside, baking all the cookies evenly. If your oven doesn’t have a fan, you could increase the temperature to 375 ° F (190 ° C) and bake each cookie sheet one at a time.

Should the syrup be hot or cold?

Many Greek desserts are made with syrup, which is either used hot or cold, depending on the recipe. In my post Easy Greek Baklava Rolls – Refined Sugar Free , I mention how opinions differ among chefs on whether or not a dessert should be hot when pouring cold syrup on it or the other way around. Some like it hot and some like it cold! I have tried both ways and found that this cookie is sturdier when it’s hot and then dipped into really cold syrup.

MELOMAKARONA – Greek Christmas Honey Cookies

How to make melomakarona in 10 simple steps:

STEP 1: MAKE THE SYRUP FIRST & PREP THE BAKING SHEETS

Make the syrup first, allow it to cool, then put it in the refrigerator. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

STEP 2: MIX THE FLOURS

Mix the all-purpose flour with the fine semolina flour and set aside.

STEP 3: MIX REMAINING INGREDIENTS FOR DOUGH

Whisk together the wet ingredients with the remaining ingredients for the dough.

STEP 4: MIX WET AND DRY INGREDIENTS

Gently add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix by hand until JUST combined. Do not overmix the dough.

STEP 5: REST

Cover the dough and let it rest for about half an hour.

STEP 6: PREHEAT THE OVEN 

Preheat the oven to 350 °F (180 °C) (fan forced) or 375 ° F (190 ° C) for an oven without a fan.

STEP 7: WEIGH EACH PIECE OF DOUGH & SHAPE

Take a piece of dough and weigh it using a digital scale. Each piece should be about 0.70-88 oz (20-25 g). Make each piece oval and thick. If you don’t have a digital scale, try and make each piece of dough the same size before baking. If you want, you can make a pattern on top using a fork or a closed scalloped crimper.

Tip: The pattern helps absorb the syrup and hold the walnuts on top.

STEP 8: BAKE

Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for about 25-30’ until they’re golden brown.

STEP 9: SOAK IN SYRUP

When cookies are done, take 7-10 of them and immediately dunk them into the cold syrup. Let them soak for about 40 seconds ta minute, dunking them so that they’re submerged in the syrup. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a serving platter. Repeat with the other cookies.

STEP 10: ADD THE TOPPINGS

Drizzle some honey over the cookies and add the chopped walnuts.

These cookies will last for up to 2 weeks at room temperature as long as they’re covered.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

  • I usually make the syrup a day ahead and keep it in the refrigerator.
  • Do not overmix the dough; otherwise the cookies will become tough and hard. Mix until just combined. I usually count up to 15 seconds as I gently mix by hand and then stop.
  • Don’t put too many cookies in the syrup at the same time, because you won’t have enough room to remove them with the slotted spoon.
  • The dough is greasy, so you might want to wear gloves.
  • Save any extra syrup in the fridge for your coffee or tea! Or, if you want more syrup in your melomakarona, just pour some more on the bottom of the plate the next day and let the cookies soak it up.

Have a Merry Christmas!

MORE GREEK RECIPES!

Please let me know how these melomakarona turn out for you in the comments below!

I would love to hear from you!

Melomakarona Greek Christmas Honey Cookies

MELOMAKARONA – Greek Christmas Honey Cookies

These classic Greek Christmas honey cookies will fill your house with a warm aroma of spices! My comprehensive guide will break down all the steps, tips and tricks you need to make the perfect Greek honey cookies!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: Greek Christmas Honey Cookies, melomakarona, honey
Servings: 55 cookies
Author: Voula

Ingredients

For the Syrup

  • 1 cup water (250 ml / 8 oz)
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar (250 g)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 - 6 whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 orange, cut in half
  • 6.5 oz good quality honey (125 ml)

For the Dough

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (500 g)
  • ½ cup fine semolina flour (100 g)
  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (200 ml)
  • ¾ cup light vegetable oil (200 ml)
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar (30 g)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground clove
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons cognac or brandy (optional)
  • grated orange zest from 1 orange

For the Topping

  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts (120 g)
  • 2 tablespoons good quality honey (optional)

Instructions

  • Make the syrup: Cut the orange in half and put it in a saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients for the syrup. Gently boil for 5 minutes. Then take off the heat and discard the orange halves. Stir in the honey and set aside to cool. Then refrigerate.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a bowl, mix the all-purpose flour with the fine semolina flour and set aside.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients for the dough.
  • Gently add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and mix by hand. Mix until just combined.
  • Cover the dough and let it rest for about half an hour.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 °F (180 °C ) (fan forced). If your oven doesn’t have a fan, you could increase the temperature to 375 ° F (190 ° C) and bake the cookies one sheet at a time.
  • If you have a digital scale, take a piece of dough and weigh it. Each piece should be about 0.70 - 0.88 oz (20 - 25 g ). If you don’t have a digital scale, try and make each piece of dough the same size before baking.
  • Make each piece oval and thick. If you want, you can make a pattern on top using a closed scalloped crimper.
  • Place the cookies on the baking sheets, about an inch apart, and bake for about 25-30’ until they’re golden brown.
  • When cookies are done, take 7-10 of them and immediately dunk them into the cold syrup. Let them soak for about 40 seconds to a minute, flipping them over halfway through. Don't soak them too long, though, because they'll fall apart.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a serving platter. Repeat with the other cookies.
  • Drizzle some honey over the cookies and top with the chopped walnuts.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • You could make the syrup a day ahead and keep it in the refrigerator.
  • Do not overmix the dough; otherwise the cookies will become tough and hard. Mix until just combined. I usually count up to 15 seconds as I gently mix by hand and then stop.
  • Don’t put too many cookies in the syrup at the same time, because you won’t have enough room to remove them with the slotted spoon. 
  • The dough is very greasy, so you might want to wear gloves.
  • Save any extra syrup in the fridge for your coffee or tea! Or, if you want more syrup in your melomakarona, just pour some more on the bottom of the plate the next day and let the cookies soak it up.
  • These cookies will last for up to 2 weeks at room temperature as long as they’re covered.
©Pastry Wishes

 

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