Moustokouloura: grape molasses, honey and chocolate biscuits

“Along with honey and carob syrup, grape molasses is one of the oldest sweeteners used in Greek cooking. While these are all still sugars, I do feel slightly virtuous when I eat a treat that is free from refined sugar. I also love how simple these crisp biscuits are – perfect for a children’s baking afternoon…….The subtle spices have a festive, warming feel and they make wonderful presents.”

Reprinted with permission from Nistisima by Georgina Heyden, Bloomsbury Publishing 2022.

Ingredients

500g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

175ml petimezi (grape molasses)

125ml light olive or vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing

5 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons orange juice

150g dark chocolate

50g toasted sesame seeds or hazelnuts

Flaky sea salt

Instructions

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ground cinnamon, ground cloves and fine salt and leave to one side. In the bowl of a free-standing mixer, using a beater attachment, mix together the petimezi, oil, honey and orange juice. When the liquids are completely combined, add half the dry ingredients and combine using the beater attachment (you can also do this by hand). Add the remaining flour mixture, and mix together just enough to bring it together. Turn it out onto a lightly oiled worktop, and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas mark 5 and line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper. Divine the dough in half, then half again. Split each quarter into nine or 10 small balls. Roll a ball of dough into a sausage about 12cm long, then join the ends to form a circle or roll into a swirl, then place on a lined baking sheet. Continue with all the dough. Bake for about 13–15 minutes, or until just lightly golden, then leave to cool on the trays for 10 minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack.

When the biscuits have cooled, break up the chocolate into small, even pieces and melt in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until glossy and smooth. Place the toasted sesame seeds in a bowl (if using hazelnuts, chop them very finely first). Half dip a biscuit into the melted chocolate then sprinkle with the sesame seeds or chopped hazelnuts and a little pinch of flaky sea salt. Transfer to a cooling rack to set, then repeat with all of the biscuits.