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Right up there with stunning nature and centuries-old architecture, one of the best parts about visiting Greece is something that fits in the palm of your hand: the desserts. If you find Greek desserts — in all their honey, nuts, fruits, cream, bread, and sugar goodness — to be of the same cultural significance as the Acropolis and Mount Olympus, no-one will judge you (and you’re definitely not alone). Ditch your diet, forget your gluten intolerance, and ignore the (terrifying) sugar statistics because Greek desserts are 100% worth sinning for. Here’s the best of the bunch.
Portokalopita (Orange Cake)
With Portokalopita, phyllo (or filo) — a very thin, unleavened dough and a crucial ingredient in many Greek desserts — is combined with flavors of orange and cinnamon to create one of the most delectable desserts in the country. It’s a fluffy cake that’s usually served with yogurt to make it well-balanced (not in the healthy sense). Portokalopita is said to originate from Crete, but come springtime, houses all around the country are typically overflowing with oranges, and they gather their harvest to make a great seasonal dish.
AllTheRooms’ handpicked recipe: portokalopita
We’ll venture to say that ‘galaktoboureko’ sounds far more exotic and enticing than ‘milk pie,’ so hand it to the Greeks for the savvy marketing. Whether you elect to call it the latter or the tongue-twisting former doesn’t matter so much as to how scrumptious and simple it is. A pastry with melted butter and a creamy custard that’s dipped in syrup doesn’t sound earth-shattering, but it is. More modern renditions of Galaktoboureko are served chilled (which is better), but if you’re looking to walk your palate down memory lane and truly do as the Romans did, be a purist and have it warm.
AllTheRooms’ handpicked recipe: galaktoboureko
Enough beating around the bush — baklava is far and away the most widely recognized and appreciated item on this list. It’s a perennial classic, a dish that is almost synonymous with ‘Greek dessert.’ It again employs the use of flaky phyllo dough, and inside its little triangles of goodness is a cinnamon-spiced nut filling that’s bathed in a sweet syrup. It’s crunchy, it’s gooey, it’s decadent — it’s all the things you want in a dessert. It also dates back to the Romans of the second century BCE, so you’re biting into a little slice of history.
AllTheRooms’ handpicked recipe: baklava
At first glance, Kataifi looks like more like a suitable bird’s nest rather than something you’d consume after dinner. The stringy pastry is similar to angel hair pasta, and its center is usually comprised of chopped walnuts, ground clove, cinnamon, all soaked in lemon syrup. If you make it on your own, feel free to get creative with almonds or a number of different toppings. Plus, with how portable the treats are, pack a batch and head towards one of the 10 Best Beaches in Greece. It’s a decent amount of prep time (over two hours), but it’s well worth it.
AllTheRooms’ handpicked recipe: kataifi
Revani is a moist and delicious dessert that’s more of a cake than the other pastries on this list. It has a light, airy texture and hints of citrus fruit that make it a standout among the fairly rich Greek dessert scene. Revani has an orange zest, and much like Kataifi, it often has a nut component of almonds. It’s super easy to make, so if you’re looking to spice up your holiday potluck with something Greek, consider revani.
AllTheRooms’ handpicked recipe: revani
Loukoumades are the Greek take on donuts, and they are extremely dangerous for those with an addictive, take-these-away-from-me personality. They’re little bite-sized spheres of fried dough that can only be translated directly as ‘honey puffs.’ Sprinkle some powdered sugar on the glistening glaze and you’ve got yourself a Greek delicacy. If you find yourself a few pounds heavier after discovering loukoumades, enroll in one of the 7 Top Yoga Retreats in Greece to get yourself back on track.
AllTheRooms’ handpicked recipe: loukoumades
If your Island-Hopping Itinerary for Greece happens to land during the holidays, you’ll notice that all proud households start baking Melomakarona by the boatload, which makes it one of the most essential desserts of the region. It’s more of a cookie than anything else and is made from flour, olive oil, honey, and chopped walnuts. The end result is a sugary treat that will leave you extremely satisfied.
AllTheRooms’ handpicked recipe: melomakarona