Ikaria, Greece is one of the healthiest places in the world, having a large population of centenarians who live active lives well into old age.
But having one of the healthiest diets in the world doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in dessert! So if you’re interested in learning how to cook an Ikarian diet, you’re going to need to know how to make some classic Greek desserts!
In Ikaria, like many parts of the Mediterranean, particularly the Aegean islands, almonds grow well. Why not put them in dessert?
A great recipe comes from Diane Kochilas, shown below. I highly recommend Kochilas’ book on traditional Greek cooking, The Country Cooking of Greece, to explore further. Here’s a snapshot of her recipe, cut down in serving size, which produces roughly 25 small desserts.
First, combine 5/8-cups of sugar with 1/2-cup of water into a saucepan and simmer for 20-30 minutes. It will thicken, but don’t let it thicken too much or mixing this syrup later with your almond concoction will be difficult.
In the meantime, finely grind 2 cups of almonds in a food processor and mix into a large bowl with 2 cups of bread crumbs.
Slowly stir in the hot syrup (if it has cooled down, it will be too thick to mix properly). When the mixture is cool enough to handle, use your hands to shape them into 1-inch balls.
Sprinkle your fingers with water (rosewater if you have it), and drizzle each ball with confectioners’ sugar.
You can eat them right away, or store them for about a week!
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