Christmas is the time for families and friends to come
together, celebrate and share wonderful moments
together. It’s all about being together, discussing,
playing and having fun. Cooking special dishes and
baking traditional sweets is an important part of this
time of the year. The aromas of cinnamon, cloves,
orange and butter create the perfect atmosphere for
enjoying the time with our loved ones.
Parents, grandparents and friends could get the kids
involved in the kitchen while preparing some sweets.
This a chance not only to spend wonderful time
together, but also a first-hand experience for them to
use their math/science skills on fractions, units of
measurements and conversions. Quarters, grams,
kilograms, litres, millilitres, different densities of
solids and liquids, temperature, baking time; real life
situation problem solving in all its glory!
In Greece two traditional Christmas sweets are
“kourabiedes” and “melomakarona”. The ingredients
needed for these are easy to be bought in any
supermarket here and the level of difficulty is
relatively small. You only need some Christmas music
and joyful mood. Enjoy preparing and tasting them!
Ingredients for approximately 50 pieces:
500 grams unsalted butter (any butter to your
4 tablespoons of powdered (icing) sugar
30 ml ouzo (well, any sort of alcoholic beverage
A pinch of salt
1 medium egg
100 grams ground almonds (lightly roasted if you
2 teaspoons baking powder
450-500 grams flour for all purposes
Extra powdered sugar for dust
Melt the butter in low temperature.
In a large bowl add the butter, the icing sugar, the
alcoholic beverage and the salt
Whisk the mixture until all the ingredients are well
Add the egg, the baking powder and the almonds
and whisk the mixture
Add the flour gradually and mix with your hands
until all the ingredients are completely combined
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it to
the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
Preheat the oven to 180 , fun
Shape the mixture into round balls (approximately
1 tablespoon of material in each), press the ball in
your palm to become a bit oval -flat (as small
cookies) and place it on baking parchment two
Bake 20-25 minutes until golden (the time depends
on the size of the cookie and the oven)
When ready, allow time for cooling, approximately
Then place them on a plate and dust with icing
Use a butter to your preferred taste. Although the
mixture is soft and buttery, don’t add extra flour;
if possible, cut off 1-2 tablespoons from the initial
amount. The alcohol is used because it bonds with
both fat and water molecules and thus carry
aromas and flavour to the mixture; you could use a
white alcoholic drink and add some aroma such as
vanilla or mastic. We put the mixture into the
refrigerator to make it solidify and thus be easy to
shape. You can bake two trays at the same time in
Ingredients for approximately 40 pieces:
500 ml olive oil (or 250 ml olive oil and 250 ml seed oil)
100 gr sugar
125 ml brandy (replace part or all with orange juice)
125 ml orange juice
Zest from one orange
2 teaspoons powdered cinnamon
½ teaspoon powdered clove
800 gr flour for all purposes
150 gr semolina
2 teaspoons baking powder
100 gr ground walnuts
500 ml water
700 gr sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 stick cinnamon
Peels of a lemon / orange
For the syrup
Boil all of the ingredients for the syrup, apart from
honey, until sugar melts. Let it simmer at low heat for
12-15 min. Remove from heat. When it reaches room
temperature, add the honey and mix till combined.
Let syrup cool for 3-4 hours. It must be cold by the time
the cookies come out from the oven.
You can prepare the syrup from the day before...
For the cookies:
In a large bowl combine all the ingredients except
the flour the semolina and the walnuts.
Whisk by hand or beat at medium speed with an
electric mixer until well blended.
Add the flour, the semolina and the walnuts and
mix by hand gently and for a very short time (no
more than 10 seconds)
Shape the mixture into any cookie type shape and
place it on baking parchment two centimetres
Bake 25-30 minutes until golden (the time
depends on the size of the cookie and the oven).
As soon as you remove them from the oven, soak
the hot cookies in the syrup for 10 seconds.
Allow them to drain on a wire rack.
Sprinkle with honey, cinnamon and chopped
Measurements – Units – Conversions
First of all we need to understand that we measure mass in grams and
volume in litres. A kilogram equals 1000 grams, a gram equals 1000 mg
(milligrams) and a litre equals 1000 ml (millilitres).
Mass is also measured in ounces or pounds. 1 pound = 453.6 gr and 1 ounce
= 28.3 gr. One pound equals 16 ounces.
In recipes sometimes it’s easier to use cups and tablespoons/ teaspoons for
measuring the ingredients.
We could measure the solid ingredients in cups or grams. Here is a table
for converting from one to the other.
All-Purpose flour Butter or Margarine
and Icing Sugar 1/8 cup = 30 grams
1/8 cup = 15 grams 1/4 cup = 55 grams
1/4 cup = 30 grams 1/3 cup = 75 grams
1/3 cup = 40 grams 3/8 cup = 85 grams
3/8 cup = 45 grams 1/2 cup = 115 grams
1/2 cup = 60 grams Vivi 5/8 cup = 140 grams
5/8 cup = 70 grams 2/3 cup = 150 grams
2/3 cup = 75 grams 3/4 cup = 170 grams
3/4 cup = 85 grams 7/8 cup = 200 grams
7/8 cup = 100 grams 1 cup = 225 grams
1 cup = 110 grams
Granulated Sugar Ground Almonds
1/8 cup = 30 grams 1/8 cup = 20 grams
1/4 cup = 55 grams 1/4 cup = 40 grams
1/3 cup = 75 grams 1/3 cup = 55 grams
3/8 cup = 85 grams 3/8 cup = 65 grams
1/2 cup = 115 grams 1/2 cup = 85 grams
5/8 cup = 140 grams 5/8 cup = 105 grams
2/3 cup = 150 grams 2/3 cup = 110 grams
3/4 cup = 170 grams 3/4 cup = 130 grams
7/8 cup = 200 grams 7/8 cup = 150 grams
1 cup = 225 grams 1 cup = 170 grams
Also, instead of grams we could use