~it’s a lover’s delight!
During my visits to Greek bakeries like Lefkos Pyrgos Café and Titan in Astoria, NY, I found chocolate was used simply, as a drizzle or a filling (or both) in pastries like baklava and flogeres (nut rolls), or infused into the batter of karidopita (syrup-drenched walnut cake), or was more inventively used for dipping the pastries before sprinkling them with nuts. It was even incorporated into koulourakia dough to create a Greek version of a black-and-white cookie…with a twist!
7 easy tips for a 2-for-1 indulgence
NOTE: Start with good-quality bittersweet or semisweet dark chocolate—it's what we prefer for taste, plus it’s the healthier option.
1. Chocolate-drizzle up your baklava or nut rolls (this works on store-bought pastries too!):
~Let them cool completely after you’re done adding the syrup.
~Melt a couple of ounces of chocolate (we love dark bittersweet to offset the intense sweetness of the pastry), then spoon it into a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag and snip a 1/8-inch hole from one of the corners. Twist the top of the bag to press the chocolate down to the snipped tip.
~Hold the tip about 1 inch above the area you want to cover and, while pressing the chocolate down, pipe the chocolate in a zigzag pattern over the pastry. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect. It doesn’t have to. That’s the beauty of drizzling. The less perfect it is, the more unique it appears, so have fun with it.
2. Not chocolaty enough? Make Choclava!
~When assembling your nut rolls or baklava, drizzle chocolate on the inside or sprinkle each layer with chocolate chips.
~Then bake, syrup, cool, and finish with a top drizzle.
~Hold a nut roll by one end and dip it one-third of the way into a bowl of melted chocolate. Remove and let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
~Place the roll on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper and immediately sprinkle the chocolate with toasted almond slices. Repeat with the remaining rolls, keeping them one inch apart.
~Let the rolls cool at room temperature until firm. Don’t refrigerate, as that would cause the phyllo to soften and you want it to remain crisp.
For that dipped look with baklava:
~Working with one piece at a time, place the baklava on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper and, using a pastry brush, brush on a thick layer of melted chocolate on half or all of the pastry (if it doesn’t adhere well, do a thin layer, let it dry completely, then repeat with another layer), covering the sides, if desired.
~Immediately sprinkle the chocolate with lightly toasted chopped nuts (we like pistachios because they add some color and dimension compared to the walnuts inside, or try shredded raw or toasted coconut). Repeat with the remaining baklava pieces, keeping them one inch apart.
~Let the coated baklava cool at room temperature until the chocolate is firm. Don’t refrigerate, as that would cause the phyllo to soften and you want it to remain crisp.
To infuse a cake like karidopita, add cocoa powder to the dry flour mixture (swap out one-quarter of the flour with an equal amount of unsweetened cocoa powder), and/or fold in a handful of mini chocolate chips (or more, depending on the size of your cake or your taste) before pouring the batter into the baking pan.
~Start with Greek demitasse coffee poured into cups.
~Finely grate a touch of dark chocolate and sprinkle it over the coffee or dust it with sweetened cocoa powder. If desired, finish by sifting just a pinch of confectioners’ sugar on top to brighten it up. (Don’t stir or you’ll bring up the grounds from the bottom.) Sip, sigh, smile!
I hope you enjoy this week’s When Greek Meets Chocolate and that it kicks your taste for Greek desserts up to an all-time high.
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Kali orexi! Good appetite!
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