Skaltsounia: Christmas Walnut-filled, Crescent-Shaped Pastries

 Skaltsounia is a dessert that Greeks like to treat their loved ones and guests during fasting periods and big celebrations. The first time I ever tried skaltsounia I was a kid. We were visiting my uncle and aunt who is famous for her Christmas desserts. Next to the kourabiedes, melomakarona, and diples, she had placed the skaltsounia she had made.  

Initially, I thought that skaltsounia was a recipe from Mani as my aunt is from there. Later, I found out that this dessert is famous in other parts of Greece and there are many variations to this recipe. For this traditional skaltsounia recipe, you need the following ingredients: walnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, sugar, cognac, cinnamon, butter, 

Rich in flavor and in orange scent, this skaltsounia recipe, which gives around 40 crescents, takes 20 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to bake. For your reference, when I mention a cup as a measurement this equals 250 ml. 

Skaltsounia: Christmas Walnut-filled, Crescent-Shaped Pastries

Skalsounia - Ingredients

For the filling

  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup of chopped unblanched almonds 
  • ½ cup of sesame seeds, toasted and pounded in a mortar 
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of cognac
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg 
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • The zest and the grated peel of one 1 large orange

For the dough

  • 1 stick (¼ pound) of butter, at room temperature 
  • ⅓ cup of sugar
  • ⅓ cup of vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup of fresh orange juice 
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon 
  • ¼ teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1½ tablespoons of brandy
  • ½ teaspoon of double-acting baking powder 
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • Powdered sugar for dusting 

Skalsounia - How to Make

  1. Start this authentic skaltsounia recipe by taking a bowl. Add and mix the walnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, sugar, cognac, nutmeg, cinnamon, orange peel, and juice. Set aside the bowl.
  2. In a mixer bowl and the butter. Cream it until light. Gradually add to the butter, sugar, and oil.
  3. Continue beating for about 5 minutes. Add orange juice, cinnamon, and baking soda diluted in brandy. 
  4. Sift the baking powder with 1 cup flour and add to the mixture. 
  5. Slowly and gradually add enough flour to form a soft dough, and knead for about 2 minutes.
  6. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 175 °C.
  7. Roll out dough, one rounded tablespoonful at a time, into 5-inch circles.
  8. Place a teaspoon of the filling on one half of each circle. 
  9. Fold the other half of the dough down to form a crescent. 
  10. Press with the fingers to seal the edges of the skaltsounia. You can also use a fork for this. 
  11. Take a baking pan and cover it with parchment paper or an ungreased cookie sheet. Place the skaltsounia and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a very light golden brown color. 
  12. Remove from the oven and immediately top with the powdered sugar. 
  13. Allow cooling before serving.
Do not underestimate this crescent-shaped pastry. Skaltsounia is equally delicious with the other famous traditional Christmas desserts.