Elsewhere in Greece, these delicate fried pastry stripes are called "diples". In Mykonos we call them "xerotigana". "Xerotigana" is like "diples" only they don't contain eggs: crispy, fried sweets in different shapes ( bows, as my grandmother used to make, and roses) dipped in honey syrup and sprinkled with walnuts, cinnamon and sesame seeds.
"Xerotigana" are a tradition on the island of Mykonos, served at special occasions such as weddings, baptisms and to welcome the new year. Sweets like xerotigana symbolically sweeten our path through life. Made from hand-rolled thin strips of dough, xerotigana look like pale gold ribbons curled on the table or even like bows (depending on the shape you choose to give).
"Xerotigana" are also the dessert of the day of Epiphany, which is prepared by the housewives. By custom, children not only eat but also throw xerotigana on the house roof in order to sweeten the 'goblins' (ancient Greek doctrine of demons) and run away!
Hope you give it a try and enjoy this traditional sweet with honey!
1 lb/ 450 gr all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons tsipouro, ouzo or grappa
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
3-4 cups olive oil for frying
For the syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
1 cup water
1 stick cinnamon
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon roasted sesame seeds, rub in blender to become powder
1 Tablespoon cinnamon powder
Put flour into a large mixing bowl and make a small hole with your fingers in the center. Pour in the ouzo (or other alcohol you choose), olive oil, salt and water. Knead on medium speed for about 10 minutes or until smooth. Cover and set it aside to rest for about 10 minutes.
While the dough is resting, make the syrup. In a large saucepan, bring the honey, water, sugar and cinnamon stick to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until slightly thickened, 10 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick and turn the heat to the lowest possible setting to keep it hot without boiling.
Divide the dough into equal parts and roll each out to a thin sheet. Cut each sheet in stripes. Tie each stripe into a bow, knot or rose. Fry them for a few seconds only, until golden brown, and remove with a slotted spoon or tongs. Strain on kitchen paper and let cool. Using tongs, dip them, one by one, into the honey syrup and turn to coat. Transfer them to a large bowl and sprinkle lightly with the mixing of coarsely chopped walnuts, cinnamon powder and roasted sesame seeds powder. Repeat until all of the pastries are coated. Carefully transfer the pastries to a serving platter and pour any remaining honey syrup on top. Serve right away.
Tip: If you don't like sweets to be very syrupy, don't dip them in the syrup but instead drizzle the syrup on the "Xerotigana".