The abundance of almonds on the Greek island lead to a number of desserts made with… what else? Almonds. If you have traveled to islands such as Mykonos, Tinos, Sifnos you may have seen these white little sweets. There are several versions and these are called ahlathakia (little pears) because the shape resembles a pear (although mine are bit flat on the bottom so they don’t roll over). These typically are offered to a guest by the host, but they are also served when celebrating a wedding or baptism.
This version is a vegan version, although there are recipes that also use eggs. And because there is no flour, they are also gluten- free. My favorite part of these sweets is the flower water or as it is known orange blossom water. The aroma reminds me of kitchens of grandmothers and aunts as this fragrant water is often used in Greek desserts, but it also reminds me of summer vacations on the islands and walking in the little island patisseries full of these sweets.
You can make your own for a party, christening, baby shower or even a wedding. Theses particular ones are vegan, so no animal products. You can use almond powder or make your own using a food processor. You want to make sure the almonds are peeled and you process just enough to have a powder, if you mix too much it will become a paste.
These are protein rich, vegan and sweet, but flavor-wise you really only need one as they are so aromatic. Then wash it down with a tall glass of cold water.
Greek Island Almond Sweets – Amygthalota
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup orange blossom water
- 18 ounces (500 grams) ground almond (almond powder)
- 1 ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup mashed banana
- Powdered sugar
- Clove buds
1. Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius
2. In a bowl mix 1 cup water with ¼ cup orange blossom water.
3. In a larger bowl blend the sugar with the almond powder.
4. Add the mashed banana and 3-4 tablespoons of the blossom water mix to the almond sugar mixture. Knead until you have a soft dough (not too soft-you should be able to form the cookies). Add more flower water as needed.
5. Form little pear shaped cookies using about 2 teaspoons dough and place on a pan lined with parchment paper. (You can also shape in little balls or crescent shapes).
6. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden.
7. Remove from oven let them cool and remove carefully from pan.
8. Dip each cookie in the orange blossom water and place on a paper towel.
9. Roll in powdered sugar, patting lightly with fingers.
10. Pierce a clove bud on the tip to resemble a pear.
Store in a sealed container