Top Six Sweet Greek Treats

I’ll admit it: I have a massive sweet tooth.

How I’ve gone nearly three decades of my life without falling victim to a cavity is beyond me. I’d like to attribute it to flossing, brushing regularly, and good genes, but who really knows?

One thing I do know, however, is that an addictiveness to sweets is not uncommon among Greeks. As a matter of fact, I’m willing to bet that the majority of readers on this site right now share my sentiments toward certain pastries; especially Greek ones. The cavity situation, on the other hand, I’m not too sure of.

If you’re a fan of sugar, honey, nuts, creams, custards, and phyllo, then you fall under the same category as myself. They really are a wonderful.

With that being said, I would now like to present to you with a list of my top 6 Greek desserts. And unlike most of my listed features where the items don’t fall in a specific order, the following are actually ranked based on my liking.

So here they are. Our top six Greek desserts.

#6: Kourabiedes

Kourabiedes are one of the tastiest Greek desserts you will ever come across. Sometimes made with brandy, vanilla, or mastika for flavouring, these butter cookies are the talk of the town during Christmas and baptisms. The main difference between Kourabiedes and your regular shortbread cookies is that these delectable desserts usually contain almonds, and are immediately rolled in icing sugar upon their removal from the oven. And here’s some free advice for those of you who have never tried one: try holding your breath when you eat these powdery delights.

Here’s a video of Irene Mina giving us a quick 6-minute tutorial on how to make Kourabiedes:

#5: Koulourakia (Greek Cookies) Recipe

Mmmmmmmmm… Koulourakia. So yummy. Especially after you take one for a swim in a cup of coffee. These traditional Greek cookies are arguably the most popular ones you will find in bakeries. Typically made around Easter time, these butter-based sweets have a vanilla-like taste, and are shaped by hand with a shiny egg glaze. Koulourakia can also be recognized by the sesame seeds which are sometimes sprinkled over top of them, or by their distinctive snake-like shape. As a matter of fact, I found out when researching about Koulourakia -- (yes, believe it or not I researched these desserts) -- that they are shaped that way because the ancient Minoans worshipped snakes for their healing powers. So does this mean that these cookies can cure the common cold? I promise to put them to the test and report back to all of you the next time I get the sniffles.

  1. 1/2 cup butter
  2. 1 1/4 sticks crisco or vegetable baking sticks
  3. 3 eggs
  4. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (lemon or almond extract could be substituted)
  5. 2 cups confectioner's sugar
  6. 3 teaspoons baking powder
  7. 5 cups flour
  8. egg wash
  9. Jimmies, sprinkles, colored decorating sugars or sesame seeds
  1. In an electric mixer, mix together butter and Crisco until whipped.
  2. Add eggs and extract.
  3. Blend in confectioner's sugar.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together baking powder and flour.
  5. Slowly add to butter mixture.
  6. Dough should be workable but not too sticky.
  7. Roll out dough on to floured surface and braid. 
  8. (Make and practice a few braids too!)
  9. Place on cookie sheet, brush with egg wash and decorate with sesame seeds, sprinkles and sugars.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-18 minutes until lightly golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.

#4: Baklava

Baklava is a rich, sweet dessert made with layers of phyllo pastry, and filled with chopped nuts, syrup, and honey. It has been enjoyed throughout early years of antiquity by members of the Ottoman and Byzantine Empires, and has a blurred history of Greek, Turkish, and Central Asian origin. As for the debate as to who were the first to lay claim to this tasty dessert, good luck finding any solid supportive documentation.

#3: Diples (Thiples)

Just look at that picture, would ya? How GOOD do those Diples look? Even if you’ve never tried one, how bad do you just want to break off a little piece and eat it? I’m not going to lie, my love for Diples is newfound. I recently acquired a taste for these deep fried honey rolls a couple of years ago, and ever since then it’s been a love-eat relationship. This pastry is basically a cross between a doughnut and a funnel cake, only it’s flavor puts both of those desserts in a league far below that of its own.

Here’s another cooking clip for you. This time, instead of Irene Mina providing the directions and commentary, we have Eva Papayiannis, who apparently doesn’t believe in measurements. Enjoy…

#2: Galaktoboureko

It’s pretty safe to say that, for me, Galaktoboureko was the very first Greek dessert I fell in love with. This custard filled, honey coated, phyllo-topped pastry is sometimes flavoured with lemon or orange, and is literally one of the few foods in this world that I would do anything for. No seriously. I would do ANYTHING for a bite of Galaktoboureko. Even if it meant sacrificing desserts 3 through 6 for the rest of my life, I would do it. Trust me. I’m crazy like that.

#1: Loukoumades

Finally, we have arrived at my favourite Greek dessert of all time. The world-famous Loukoumades, or as North Americans like to call them: Greek Honeyballs! The only difference is, Greeks don’t go cheap on the honey! These fried balls of dough soaked in syrup are popular all over Greece, and can be enjoyed at any time of the day. And for a little change of pace when it comes to chowing down on these honeyballs, try adding some Nutella and ice cream into the mix. I promise you won't be disappointed!

Do you agree or disagree with my taste buds? Let us know how you rank these Greek desserts, and if there are any that we may have missed.

By Staff Writer – Jonathan Bliangas

Follow Jonathan on Twitter @jbliangas