This one is for my vegan friends, and for those who fast for Lent leading up to Easter.
This is one of my favorite cookies growing up in NYC, where Greek bake shops are everywhere! One of the best parts of living in Queens was how exposed to our Greek culture I was able to be. Over the years, Greek markets have become plentiful there. And as my own generation of first generation Greek Americans had moved further away from Queens, the need for readily available Greek groceries has followed them out there.
So I grew up in NYC, a child of Greek immigrants, and was able to be fully immersed in as much Greek culture as one could be in America!
One of these treats that were readily available was this cookie. It is made with petimezi, or grape molasses. This is a reduction of freshly pressed grape juice (for wine making) mixed with wood ash. Roughly 8 lbs. of grapes will make 2 cups of petimezi. It is a very ancient sweetener, that was commonly used before sugar was brought to that part of the world.
This cookie is also sweetened with honey. So there are no refined sugars in this sweet treat. Add to that some freshly squeezed orange juice. I had some mandarins readily available, so I used those instead.
And the fat in this cookie is olive oil & sunflower seed oil. I mixed two oils because I always keep extra virgin olive oil, which has a very strong flavor to it. I mixed it with a lighter oil that I usually keep around like sunflower seed. If you have light olive oil, use that.
Cinnamon and clove give that quintessential Greek aromatic flavor to moustokouloura.
I searched various recipes and found that the general measurements & ingredients were the same.
4 cups all purpose flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/4cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup sunflower seed oil
1/4 cup orange juice (I had mandarins)
1 cup grape molasses (Petimezi)
1/2 cup honey
Mix all of the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl till they are incorporated. Sift the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Then gently knead if to full my incorporate. Cover & it rest for 20 minutes.
To roll it out, drizzle a few drops of olive oil on your work surface. You don’t want to use flour because that will dry out your cookie. This cookie should soft and fluffy. It’s not meant to be a dry, crispy cookie.
Roll them out into the desired shape. I made coils & rings. I added sesame to half the batch.
Bake them at 350 F for roughly 20 minutes.
Notes: Space them apart because they do rise & expand. I estimated walnut size pieces of dough & these are fairly large cookies. Most of my cookies expanded so much that they touched and I had to separate them. So some extra space is a good thing when it comes to this cookie. I got close to 40 cookies out of this batch.
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