With regards to food, I don’t really feel deprived of treats or like I’m missing out anymore. When I was still very much addicted to sugar (it was very much a part of a number of hours of every day before I began to make changes) I definitely felt like cutting out sugar was the pits.
But one thing I do miss is being able to indulge in the Greek sweets I was brought up on. I really do miss them, although I can’t really say if its the pure enjoyment of eating them so much as the feelings and memories they evoke.
Rolling out the dough for Sweet Koulouria… brushing filo pastry with butter while making Baklava… stirring Risogalo for an hour over a hot stove… sprinkling icing sugar over Kourabiethes…
I have a lot of memories of my Dad coming into the kitchen, after Mum was halfway through baking a tray of Baklava and taking over the layering of the filo and the nuts. Because it had to be just right – not too many nuts, spread right to the edges, and then, of course, the cutting of it into perfectly shaped diamonds was an art form which my Dad had down pat.
So I felt I absolutely had to act on this idea I had to make a cake version of my favourite Greek sweet, Melomakarona. In their original form, these sweets are actually biscuits which are shaped into ovals, filled with nuts and dunked in a honey syrup. Delicious, but definitely not paleo-friendly, or sugar free, or dare I say it, healthy!
My version has all the same spices and nuts, and is still dunked in a syrup at the end, but they are dairy, grain and sugar-free, so can definitely be indulged in every now and then. And, if I do say so myself, they taste just like the real thing, except cakier.
Wife-made’s Melomakarona Cakes
Makes approximately 15 cakes
1 1/2 cups rice malt syrup or honey
1 tbspn lemon juice
1/2 cup water
Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan and boil for 5 mins. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
450g finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tspns cinnamon
5 tbspns syrup (recipe above)
Combine the ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl and mix well. Set aside.
3 cups almond meal
3/4 cup tapioca flour
1 1/4 tbspns baking powder
1/3 cup rice malt syrup or honey
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1/4 tspn ground cloves
1/2 tspn nutmeg
1 tspn cinnamon
juice of 1 large orange
1/2 cup almond milk
Preheat your oven to 180˚C (fan-forced).
With electric mixer, beat honey and oil together. Add the spices, eggs and orange juice and beat until combined. Add the almond meal, flour and baking powder and mix until combined, slowly adding the almond milk. Mix until combined.
Using paper cases in muffin tins, place a tablespoon of batter in each case. Top with a generous spoon of filling and top with another spoonful of batter, ensuring the nuts are completely covered. Don’t overfill your muffin cases!
Bake for 20-25 mins until cooked through and golden brown. Remove muffins from hot muffin trays immediately, to prevent sweating. Allow to cool completely, then carefully remove the paper cases.
Bring the syrup to the boil again and remove from heat. Dunk each cake into the hot syrup, turning a couple of times to ensure the entire cake is covered and to give it a bit of time to soak up some of the syrup. Don’t leave it in too long or you’ll be left with a soggy mess!
Top with the remaining filling mixture, and enjoy!