Here in the Peloponnese, along with the all time classic melomacarona and kourampiedes cookies, we also make diples (δίπλες) for the Christmas and New Year season. Diples, a word which means ‘’folded’’ in Greek, are made of thin sheet-like dough rolled into long, thin strips, folded, then fried in hot oil, and dipped in syrup. Folding the dough in hot oil demands a little experience; but you can make diples in all sorts of simple shapes, - the most common are bow ties and free form geometric.
Diples are served drizzled with honey, chopped walnuts and cinnamon.
In Crete the tradition is to make dairy and egg free diples, mostly for weddings. These are called xerotigana (ξεροτήγανα) and are made with really long thin zigzag strips of dough formed into spirals and of course served with honey and chopped walnuts . These last two ingredients symbolize prosperity, fertility, and joy in Greek tradition.
500gr all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
a pinch of vanilla
2 tablespoons of brandy
50gr orange juice
Oil, for frying
For the syrup:
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
In a mixer bowl, beat the eggs on high speed until smooth. With the mixer still running, add the brandy, salt, vinegar, milk, vanilla and orange juice to the egg mixture until incorporated.
Now attach the dough hook to the mixer, add the flour and baking powder and mix until the dough comes together and doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it stand for half an hour in room temperature.
If you don’t have a mixer you can perform the whole procedure by hand with perfect results.
After the dough has rested, divide it in four pieces and with a roller pin roll out each piece into very thin sheets.
If you happen to have a pasta machine, this procedure is very easy.
Cut the sheets into long strips and then again into rectangular ones. Connect two sides of each rectangular, with your fingers to create a ‘’bow tie’’ like, shape (see picture).
Since this dough gets cooked very quickly, prepare all the sheets before you start frying them.
Half fill a heavy bottomed frying pan with vegetable oil and bring the pan over medium-high heat until oil is hot enough but not smoking hot. Lower the temperature to medium and fry the ‘’bow ties’’ in batches. Drain and remove them with a perforated spoon, on a tray layered with kitchen paper.
In a cooking pot, add all the ingredients of the syrup and bring to a simmer. When the sugar has dissolved, the syrup is ready. Let the syrup cool down before you use it. It can be prepared a day ahead.
Dip the fried diples in the cold syrup just for a few seconds (otherwise they will get soggy) and with a perforated spoon, transfer them to a serving plate. Drizzle with chopped walnuts and dust with cinnamon. They are ready to serve drizzled with some extra honey.