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Kalitsounia – Traditional Cretan Sweet Cheese Pastries

The best Christmas gift one can get is the presence of family around the Christmas table! This unique appetizer or meze is a Christmas tradition that comes from the beautiful island of Crete. Its name is kalitsounia (in Greek the word is καλιτσούνια). Kalitsounia is pretty much like the traditional Greek cheese or stuffed pie. However,  its main difference is its filling. There are variations of this recipe depending which part of the island you visit. For instance, if you visit Chania, you will taste the salty kalitsounia. These are stuffed with the local, mild cheese, mizithra or various herbs from the Cretan land. I found out that the herb version is mainly without cheese. At Chania, you can also find the sweet kalitsounia, also stuffed with mizithra but poured with honey on top.

For this recipe, you need the following ingredients: flour, egg, sugar, olive oil, baking powder, mizithra, clove, and corn flour. It is so delicious, you can serve it any any special occasion all year round. This Cretan sweet cheese pastries recipe takes around 60 minutes to prepare and around 25 minutes. It gives around 30 pieces of kalitsounia.


Kalitsounia me Mizithra – Ingredients

For the dough

  • 750 g of flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • Water

For the filling

  • 1 kg of fresh, soft unsalted mizithra cheese, grated
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of clove
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of corn flour or flour
  • 1 egg and cinnamon for spreading
  • Sesame (optional)

Kalitsounia me Mizithra – Instructions

  1. Start this traditional kalitsounia recipe by first preparing the dough. Take a bowl and sift the flour and add all ingredients except water. Blend well using your hands. Slowly pour water and knead the ingredients until you get a soft but not sticky dough.
  2. Take a bowl to prepare the filling. To do this add all the ingredients and mix them well.
  3. Separate the dough into small balls. With the help of a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a thickness of 0.2 cm. Cut the dough into small round pieces (10 cm diameter) using a small coffee plate and a knife.
  4. Preheat oven to 356°F.
  5. With a tablespoon, scoop out the cheese mixture into to middle of the dough. Use your fingers to pull the dough in around the cheese, leaving the center uncovered.
  6. Take a baking pan and butter it well or cover it with some parchment sheets.
  7. Place the kalitsounia with some distance among them.
  8. Take a bowl. Whisk one egg and brush them. Sprinkle them with some cinnamon (and some sesame – optional).
  9. Bake them for around 20 to 25 minutes.

I hope you enjoy eating kalitsounia. I hope your this Christmas becomes a celebration of togetherness with your beloved family and good friends. Merry Christmas!

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