These Cretan sweet cheese pastries use a 'rolled' dough instead of thin filo pastry sheets. It is traditional to make them at holiday times on Crete, but they are also eaten at other times as well because they're so delicious! One of the prime ingredients is the fresh, soft variety of Myzithra cheese (not the aged salty type), and if you can't find it, try Italian Mascarpone or Ricotta.
FOR THE DOUGH
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of unflavored strained yoghurt
2 eggs, beaten with a fork
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of brandy
FOR THE FILLING
1 2/3 pounds of fresh soft Myzithra cheese (or mascarpone or ricotta)
1/2 - 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon of grated orange peel
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten (for glaze)
Ground cinnamon (for the topping)
Prepare the dough in a large bowl.
Whisk the dry ingredients together (sugar, baking powder, flour).
Add the oil, mixing with a spoon or hands.
Stir in the strained yoghurt and eggs and mix with a spoon until the dough begins to stiffen, adding the brandy to soften the dough as needed.
Knead the dough in the bowl for approximately 10 minutes until smooth, and set aside to rest.
Prepare the filling in a separate bowl, mix the cheese, cinnamon, sugar, egg yolk, orange peel, and flour together until well blended.
Make the pastry on a floured surface with a rolling pin, roll a piece of dough out to a thickness of about 1/8th of an inch. Using a 3-4 inch cutter or saucer as a guide, cut out circles. (Alternatively, take a piece of dough the size of an unshelled walnut and roll it out to a circle about 3-4 inches across.)
Place a spoonful of the cheese mixture into the centre of the circle and spread out close to the edges. Raise the rim of the dough up around the cheese and, with wet fingers, pinch the edges to pull the dough in around the cheese, leaving the centre open so the cheese shows.
Repeat using all the dough and filling.
Place the Kalitsounia on the baking sheet and brush lightly with beaten egg to glaze. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 20 minutes until lightly browned. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.
Allow to cool on the baking sheet.
Kalitsounia will keep well if covered and placed in the refrigerator.