Sylvia Hagopian’s Armenian Greek Finikia Cookies (Photo courtesy of Armenian Dish)

Sylvia Hagopian: Armenian Greek Finikia Cookies

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TORONTO — Readers will love Sylvia Hagopian’s grandmother’s melt-in-your-mouth Armenian Greek Finikia cookies with the delicious and simple flavors of cinnamon and walnuts. Soaking the cookies in sugar syrup gives them a decadent, sweet taste. Finikia (or melomakarono) is an egg-shaped Greek dessert made mainly from flour, olive oil, and honey. Along with the kourabiedes, it is a traditional dessert often prepared during the Christmas season. When it comes to Greeks and Christmas, you can absolutely bet these decadent cookies will make an appearance. Some people use the two terms interchangeably depending where they are from, although there are differences. Finikia often contain semolina, or may be fried or stuffed as opposed to melomakarona.

“This recipe comes from my grandmother on my father’s side-Anahid Hagopian (née Kevorkian). My grandmother was born in 1915 in Shabin-Karahisar, which is historical western Armenia. She was orphaned due to the Armenian Genocide orchestrated by Ottoman Turks at the beginning of the 20th century,” says Sylvia, a resident of Toronto, and the founder and recipe creator at  ArmenianDish.com.

“ArmenianDish.com is my journey to recreate my grandmother’s splendid dishes to share with my family and readers. Tangy yogurt soup with mint and mante dumplings, deliciously seasoned kebab skewers, generously meaty lahmajoun with squeezed lemon, crispy cheese boereg with tabulé and zesty eetch, kofte….just to name a few. I’m obsessed with food and food photography, and I know some of these dishes can be time consuming to make, but I try to break down recipe steps in a way that helps my readers learn from my trials and errors,” she adds.

“The highlands where my grandmother was born were one of the few locations where Armenians actively resisted the Armenian Genocide in an epic battle. This was also the birthplace of Andranik Ozanian, a legendary Armenian military commander, statesman and key figure of the Armenian national liberation movement,” she says. (Note: General Andranik was an Armenian military commander and statesman, the best known fedayi, and a key figure of the Armenian national liberation movement. He was born on February 25, 1865, in the town of  Shabin-Karahisar (Şebinkarahisar), Sivas Vilayet, Ottoman Empire. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, he was one of the main Armenian leaders of military efforts for the independence of Armenia.  Armenian fedayis’ main goal was to defend Armenian villagers from persecution and at the same time, disrupt the Ottoman Empire’s activities in Armenian populated regions. Armenian volunteers fought during Hamidian Massacres, Sasun Resistance (1894), Zeitun Rebellion (1895-1896), Defense of Van, and Khanasor Expedition. They were the leaders and members of the Armenian national movement.)

Sylvia’s grandmother Anahid Hagopian (née Kevorkian) was an Armenian Genocide survivor (Photo courtesy of Armenian Dish)

“To save her life from the advancing Turkish forces, my grandmother was surrendered to an orphanage and then transferred along with thousands of other Armenian babies to orphanages in Greece where she grew up. The Near East Foundation supported my grandmother’s move to Cairo, Egypt when she was just 13, where she was welcomed into Haig and Marie Hovsepian’s family. She married my grandfather, Vartares Hagopian, also orphaned by the Armenian Genocide, in 1937 in Cairo.”

“I take great comfort in sharing this recipe with my readers since it is a reminder of my grandmother’s and our ancestors’ fight to live, and the Armenian blazing legacy of strength and survival. This is a very difficult time for Armenians around the world as we relive the trauma of our people’s genocide as Azerbaijan, supported by Turkey, invades our motherland-threatening our people’s existence through dehumanizing and barbaric acts of violence against our soldiers and the innocent villagers living near the border.”

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“My father fondly remembers these cookies from his childhood, and I am grateful my aunt preserved the recipe exactly how my grandmother used to make it. We loved these melt-in-your-mouth cookies with the simple flavors of cinnamon and walnuts. Soaking the cookies in sugar syrup gives them a decadent, sweet taste. This is a Greek recipe possibly taught to my Armenian grandmother when she lived in an orphanage in Greece. She was famous for bringing a platter of these cookies, her specialty, to every family event  and celebration.”

Ingredients:

Cookie batter:

1 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups Crisco

1/2 cup butter (room temperature)

1/8 cup sugar (Sylvia’s aunt explained that just a palm full is needed, since they will be dipped in sugar syrup)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon corn starch (mix with 1 cup of water)

1 tablespoon baking powder

5 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup crushed walnuts for topping

 

Sugar syrup:

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

The process of making Sylvia Hagopian’s Armenian Greek Finikia Cookies (Photo courtesy of Armenian Dish)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.

Blend together oil, Crisco and butter until smooth. Combine the dry ingredients (except the walnuts which will be used for topping the cookies after soaking.) Mix water with cornstarch. Alternate adding water/cornstarch mixture and flour in batches to the oil and butter. Combine well until smooth. Flour your surface and rolling pin. Roll your dough about 1 cm thick and cut out circles using a cookie cutter. With a gentle touch, roll the circles into “tubes.” Then, each of these cookie tubes are gently rolled down the rough side of a cheese grater. (The prickly side you would use for grinding spices.) This helps to give it a design and later will help the cookie  absorb the syrup after being baked.

Line the cookies in your tray and bake for 25 minutes until the bottom is lightly browned.

While the cookies are baking, combine the syrup ingredients in a saucepan  and find a slotted spoon. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer on low.

After the cookies have cooled, dip each cookie with the slotted spoon into the sugar syrup. Allow it to absorb in the sauce pan for about 10-15 seconds per cookie. Place them on a cookie wrack that allows the syrup to drip down. While the cookie is still wet from the syrup, sprinkle crushed walnuts on top. (Sylvia suggests covering the counter with paper towels so that you aren’t cleaning up a sticky mess.)

These cookies taste even better the next day after they have absorbed all the sweet syrup.

Watch Sylvia’s video to see how to make these cookies at: https://armeniandish.com/2022/09/make-armenian-greek-finikia-cookies/

Also see:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmMg5VokaCg&t=6s

Connect at:

https://armeniandish.com/about-me/

https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/armeniandish/

https://www.facebook.com/ArmenianDish/https://www.neareast.org/

https://www.panorama.am/en/news/2022/02/25/Andranik-Ozanian/2646002

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andranik

Sylvia Hagopian, Med:

I am writing this blog from land that is the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. I acknowledge that Toronto  is covered by Treaty 13 signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Williams Treaties signed with multiple Mississaugas and Chippewa bands. I acknowledge that settler colonialism has, and continues to, benefit my family. As a recent descendant of genocide survivors, it is especially important for me to acknowledge this.

Copyright 2023.  www.ArmenianDish.com All Rights Reserved.

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