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A Sweet Side of Greece!

November 4, 2019

Loud, festive and good food, if you've ever been to Greece, you would know that this is how we, Greeks, operate! Not only do we have good food, but we are also known for our unique, different, delicious desserts!

 

In this blog entry we will be sharing three of our delicious Greek dessert recipes which are not impossible to make and which tastes like a piece of Greece!

 

1. Mille Feuille

 

 

Ingredients:

 

Zest from 1 orange

700 ml milk

200 ml cream

160 gr. sugar

5 egg yolks

½ tsp vanilla extract

80 gr. cornstarch

100 gr. butter

200 gr. heavy cream

500 gr. puff pastry frozen

 

Instructions:

  1. We start by making the crème pâtissière. Pour the milk and cream into a large and heavy saucepan, and bring it to a boil over medium heat.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, the sugar, the zest, the vanilla and the eggs.

  3. When the milk and cream almost come to a boil, gradually add 1/3 of it to the egg mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Empty the ingredients of the bowl back to the saucepan and cook stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and comes to a full boil. Mix the butter in at that point, by whisking vigorously. Remove the pan from the heat, and set it aside. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours to chill completely.

  4. Preheat oven to 190* C.

  5. Lay out a sheet of puff pastry on a clean working surface.

  6. Dust the pastry with icing sugar so that it can caramelize while baking and this way it will not soak up any moisture from the cream and become soggy. It will stay nice and crunchy.

  7. Use a rolling pin and gently roll it over the pastry so the sugar can sink into the pastry. Pierce it all over with a fork.

  8. Each sheet of pastry should yield 12 pieces.

  9. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

  10. Place the pieces of pastry on the baking sheets and prick it with a fork.

  11. Dust with some icing sugar and bake for 15-20 minutes. When ready, remove from oven and set aside to cool.

  12. Beat the chilled heavy cream in a mixer until it becomes thick and fluffy, like a thick yogurt.

  13. When your crème pâtissière has chilled, beat it in a mixer for about 20 seconds, just to make it fluffy.

  14. Combine the whipped cream with the crème pâtissière using a spatula to gently fold, until they are completely incorporated.

  15. Divide the filling into 2 pastry bags.

  16. Place 6 pieces of puff pastry on a plate and pipe out a generous amount of filling over them. Put on each of them another pastry on top. Repeat the same process until you have used all pastry and crème pâtissière.

  17. Dust with icing sugar and serve!

 

 2. Galaktoboureko

 

This custard pie is a favorite Greek dessert. If you can get past the tongue twister name, Galaktoboureko (gah-lahk-toh-BOO-reh-koh) can easily become your favorite Greek pastry as well. It’s a divine combination of creamy custard and flaky phyllo dough that is baked to golden perfection and then drenched with a lemon and orange infused syrup.

 

Ingredients:

 

For the Custard

 

6 cups milk

1 1/4 cups fine semolina (you can substitute farina)

6 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Galaktoboureko

460g phyllo pastry sheets

2 sticks unsalted butter (melted, for brushing phyllo)

For the Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

5cm piece of lemon rind

5cm piece of orange rind

Juice of 1/2 lemon

 

Method:


Make the Custard

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the milk over medium-high heat until just boiling.

  2. Add the semolina and stir with a whisk. Lower the heat to medium-low.

  3. Using a whisk, beat the egg yolks with the sugar in a bowl.

  4. Ladle a cup of the warmed milk into the egg mixture to temper.

  5. Then add the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan.

  6. Continue to cook over medium-low heat until the cream starts to thicken, stirring continuously.

  7. When the custard has thickened, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and the butter. Set aside.

Assemble the Galaktoboureko

  1. Carefully remove the phyllo roll from the plastic sleeve. Most packages come in 12 x 18-inch sheets when opened fully. Using a scissor or sharp knife, cut the sheets in half to make two stacks of 9 x 12-inch sheets. To prevent drying, cover one stack with wax paper and a damp paper towel while working with the other.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

  3. Using a pastry brush, brush the bottom and sides of a 9 x 12-inch rectangular pan with melted butter.

  4. Begin by layering sheets one by one in the bottom of the pan, making sure to brush each one thoroughly with melted butter. You will use approximately half the phyllo sheets for the bottom of the pastry.

  5. When you have almost layered half the sheets, drape two sheets of phyllo so that they extend half in the pan and half out of the pan horizontally.

  6. Add the custard in an even layer on top of the sheets, smoothing the surface with a spatula.

  7. Fold the phyllo sheet flaps in over the custard layer.

  8. Then add the remaining sheets on top, brushing each sheet with melted butter.

  9. Before baking, score the top layer of phyllo (making sure not to puncture the filling layer) to enable easier cutting of pieces later. (You can place the pan in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes to harden the top layers and then use a serrated knife.)

  10. Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the phyllo turns a deep golden color.

Prepare the Syrup

  1. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and mix together. 

  2. Add the lemon peel and orange peel and boil over medium-high heat for 10 to 15 minutes.

  3. Remove the lemon and orange peel and stir in the lemon juice. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

  4. Do not pour hot syrup over the hot custard. Allow both to cool to room temperature and then carefully ladle the syrup over the galaktoboureko and allow time for it to be absorbed.

  5. Once absorbed, serve and enjoy!

 

3. Baklava

 

Baklava is one of those desserts that has a reputation for difficulty, but is actually surprisingly easy to make. I suspect this is because working with phyllo dough always seems tricky, but if you follow a few very simple tips, it’s really not — and the results are irresistible. Read on for how to make a pan of sticky, sweet, buttery, flaky, nutty baklava!

 

Ingredients

 

460g chopped nuts

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 package phyllo dough

1 cup butter, melted

1 cup white sugar

1 cup water

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish.

  2. Toss together cinnamon and nuts. Unroll phyllo and cut whole stack in half to fit the dish. Cover phyllo with a damp cloth while assembling the baklava, to keep it from drying out.

  3. Place two sheets of phyllo in the bottom of the prepared dish. Brush generously with butter. Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of the nut mixture on top. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used, ending with about 6 sheets of phyllo. Using a sharp knife, cut baklava (all the way through to the bottom of the dish) into four long rows, then (nine times) diagonally to make 36 diamond shapes.

  4. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown and crisp, about 50 minutes.

  5. While baklava is baking, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir in honey, vanilla and lemon or orange zest; reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.

  6. Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately spoon the syrup over it. Let cool completely before serving. Store uncovered.

 

Let us know what you thought of these recipes and if you enjoyed it share your photos and your outcome! Tag us on Instagram @thegourmetgreek or use the hashtag #gourmetgreekrecipes so that we can see it and feature it!