Extremely soft and highly addictive! These delicious little cheese pastries (kalitsounia) are a holiday tradition from the island of Crete. Kalitsounia (or Lichnarakia) are traditionally made with the fresh soft variety of myzithra cheese (not the salty type), but if you can’t find it, try them with some Italian mascarpone or ricotta.
For the dough
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup strained yogurt
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1kg flour (35 ounces)
- 4 tsps baking powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- juice of 1/2 orange
- zest of 1 lemon (optional)
For the filling
- 1kg of fresh soft myzithra cheese or mascarpone or ricotta (35 ounces)
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 eggs and 1 egg white
- 1 tsp powdered cinammon
For the topping
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp powdered cinnamon
- To prepare the dough for the cheese pastries (kalitsounia), add into a large bowl the olive oil, sugar, yogurt and eggs; blend well, using your hands, until the ingredients combine. Pour in the orange juice, the lemon zest and vanilla extract and blend again. Sieve the flour with the baking powder and add gradually to the mixture. Knead the dough with your hands, until it softens. Depending on the flour, you may need to use a little bit less or more flour than the recipe calls for. The dough should be soft, but not sticky.
- Leave the dough to rest for about 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare the filling for the kalitsounia. Mash the cheese into a large bowl, add the sugar, the eggs and the cinnamon; blend well, until the ingredients combine.
- Place the dough on a floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 0.3 cm. Using a 10cm cutter, cut out some circles. (If you find it difficult to roll out the whole dough, cut it in half and roll out each half separately.)
- Add a spoonful of the cheese mixture in the center of each dough circle and spread. Raise the rim of the dough up around the cheese and using your fingers, pinch the edges to pull the dough in around the cheese, leaving the center open, as shown in the picture.
- Preheat the oven to 180-200C. Place the cheese pastries (kalitsounia) on a large baking tray, lined with parchment paper and leave to rest for 20 minutes. Into a bowl, whisk 1-2 eggs and 1 tbsp of water and brush the pastries. Sprinkle with cinnamon powder and bake for about 25 minutes, until golden.
- Serve the kalitsounia as a delicious dessert with a drizzle of honey. Enjoy!
Keywords: Greek kalitsounia, Cretan kalitsounia recipe, Cretan cheese pies, lichnarakia, Greek sweet cheese pastry