Sweet Cheese Pastries From Crete Recipe

Crete cheese pies
Courtesy of Nancy Gaifyllia
Prep: 40 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 30 to 36 servings
Yield: 30 to 36 pieces
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
180 Calories
13g Fat
12g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 30 to 36
Amount per serving
Calories 180
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 6g 31%
Cholesterol 54mg 18%
Sodium 113mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 36mg 3%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 49mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

In Greek: καλιτσούνια Κρήτης, pronounced kah-leet-SOON-yah KREE-tees

These sweet cheese pastries use a rolled dough instead of thin phyllo sheets. Depending on how they are folded (see below), they can be baked or fried. They are holiday tradition on the Greek island of Crete, but eaten at other times as well because they're so delicious! These call for the fresh soft variety of myzithra (not the aged salty type) cheese, and if you can't find it, try Italian mascarpone or ricotta.


For the Dough:

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 1/2 cup plain strained yogurt

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

  • 1/4 cup brandy

For the Filling:

  • 1 2/3 pounds fresh soft myzithra cheese, or mascarpone cheese, or ricotta cheese

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 large egg, beaten, for glazing

  • 1 cup olive oil, optional, for frying

  • Ground cinnamon, optional garnish for baking

  • Confectioners' sugar, or honey, optional garnish for frying

Steps to Make It

Prepare the Dough

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together (sugar, baking powder, flour).

  2. Add the oil, mixing with a spoon or hands.

  3. Stir in the strained yogurt and eggs and mix with a spoon until the dough begins to stiffen, adding the brandy to soften the dough as needed.

  4. Knead the dough in the bowl for approximately 10 minutes until smooth, and set aside to rest.

Make the Filling

  1. In a separate bowl, mix the cheese, cinnamon, sugar, egg yolk, orange peel, and flour together until well blended.

  2. On a floured surface with a rolling pin, roll a piece of dough out to a thickness of about 1/8-inch.

  3. Using a 3 to 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 to 4 inches across.)

To Bake

  1. Place a spoonful of the cheese mixture into the center of the circle and spread out close to the edges.

  2. 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 center open so the cheese shows. Repeat using all the dough and filling.

  3. Place the kalitsounia on the baking sheet and brush lightly with beaten egg to glaze.

  4. Bake at 350 F for approximately 20 minutes until lightly browned.

  5. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.

To Fry

  1. Place a teaspoonful of cheese mixture into the center of the circle, fold the circle over into a half-moon shape.

  2. With wet fingers, crimp the edges to close securely.

  3. Preheat 1 cup of olive oil over medium heat and fry until golden on both sides.

  4. Drain on paper towels.

  5. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar or drizzle with honey.

  6. Allow cooling on the baking sheet. Kalitsounia will keep well, covered, in the refrigerator.

  7. Serve and enjoy!