Karithata (Walnut Balls Covered in Confectioner’s Sugar)

Karithata

(Walnut Balls Covered in Confectioner’s Sugar)

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These walnut balls are an adaptation of an old traditional recipe of my hometown, Dimitsana. The region was not only rich with many walnut trees, but the walnuts themselves were of the best quality; plump and sweet, perfect and free of blemishes.

From October, the time of harvest, and throughout the year–if the walnuts lasted that long–women of many generations made these cookies for every special occasion and celebration. Name days, Christmas holidays, weddings, and baptisms would not meet the standards without them. 

The difference is that the women of the time did not make them into little bite-size balls, as I do, but shaped them in huge kourambiethes like an “S,” big enough for a dessert or salad plate. If my mother thinks it is disgraceful to make and serve these “skimpy” sweets, can you imagine how the women of years past would feel? I should have shaped one of that size so you could see what I mean. I did not think of it.

I remember when visitors came for my father’s Name-day celebration. If they had their fill of treats in other homes they had visited, they knew not to waste my mom’s kourambiethes and asked to take home. Being wise, my mother and other women, would meticulously fold many kourambiethes in glossy white paper and have them for those who did not want to eat them during their visit.

Choose the best walnuts you can find. Sort them out and grind them coarsely.

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Here are the remaining ingredients. You can use cream of wheat (semolina) or its Greek counterpart, coarse simigthali.

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In large mixer bowl, beat three eggs with ¾ cup sugar and ten drops bergamot oil, until light and creamy. Remove from the mixer. Add the walnut mixture and blend well with rubber spatula.

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With small melon scooper or a teaspoon, form round balls. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Bake 6-7 minutes in the middle of the oven. Remove even if they seem undone.

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Carefully dip karithata in the bowl with confectioner’s sugar, gently pressing sugar to adhere onto cookies. Transfer to an airtight container. No need to finish until ready to serve.

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Continue shaping, baking, and sugar-coating the remaining mixture. Transfer to the container, add more sugar, and store in a cool place.

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Ingredients

  • 6  Cups ground, sorted walnuts
  • ½ Cup cream of wheat or Greek simigthali
  • 1  Teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ Cup Granulated sugar
  • 3  Whole large eggs
  • 10 Drops of bergamot oil (found in natural food stores)
  • Confectioner’s sugar

60 Servings

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Fill a bowl with confectioner’s sugar. Set aside.
  1. Combine in another bowl the ground walnuts, cream of wheat, and ground cinnamon. Blend.
  1. In large mixer bowl, beat three eggs with ¾ cup sugar and 10 drops bergamot oil, until light and creamy. Remove from the mixer. Add the walnut mixture and blend well with rubber spatula.
  1. With small melon scooper or a teaspoon, form round balls. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Bake 6-7 minutes in the middle of the oven. Remove even if they seem undone.
  1. Carefully dip karithata in the bowl with confectioner’s sugar, gently pressing sugar to adhere onto cookies. Transfer to an airtight No need to finish until ready to serve.
  1. Continue shaping, baking, and sugar-coating the remaining mixture. Transfer to the container, add more sugar, and store in a cool place.
  1. Before serving, line karithata on parchment paper and sift a new coat of confectioner’s sugar over them. Place them in paper cups or arrange on a colorful dish dusted with sugar. They should look like snowballs.
  1. To eat, gently tap the walnut ball in the paper cup to dust off some of the sugar and enjoy.

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For variation, I dip cooled walnut balls into melted coating chocolate and sprinkle with a few ground walnuts and cinnamon. Delicious! Sorry! I did not have dipping chocolate in the house. 

Do you have a sweet that you love now as much as you did when you were a child? Please, share in the comments.

About the Author

Katina Vaselopulos

Originally from Greece, Katina Vaselopulos and her husband, have made their home in Chicago for the past 47 years. Their four children and nine grandchildren offer countless adventures. Katina also enjoys cooking and baking, teaching and learning, reading and writing. Her soon-to-be-published book, Sailing Toward Ithaca, takes the reader on a journey through one year of her life. She invites the readers along, to sail through life’s journey open to all possibilities and to nurture relationships with self, others, and God by striving for self-knowledge and inner growth. Other projects include What Is Cooking in Niles, a cookbook of Greek cuisine, and a thesis, “Dostoyevsky’s Major Novels: Polemics against Liberal Thought,” for which she received high honors at Northeastern University of Illinois.

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