Treat Yourself With Some Greek Desserts

greekdessertsThe ancient Greeks left behind a rich culinary legacy of varied foods that the world has loved for many years. From the delicate and fragile to crunchy and chew, Greece is known for its delicious easy to make desserts.  If you can’t travel to Greece then the next best thing is to bring it to yourself.  Recipes are a fantastic way to travel the world without leaving the comfort of your own kitchen.  So why not treat yourself to some of the finer delicacies that the world has to offer. Here are some traditional Greek desserts that you can prepare for your family.

Baklava

When you talk about a Greek dessert, this is the dish many people tend to think about. This food is not only good for people who love Greek food, but also people who prefer nuts in their desserts.

Ingredients

1/2 lb almonds, 1 lb coarsely ground walnuts, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 2 cups of water, 10 whole cloves, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, lemon juice, 1/2 lb unsalted butter (melted), 1 lb phyllo pastry sheets.

Preparation

Mix the walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and almonds in a bowl. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Carefully remove he phyllo roll from the plastic sleeve. Many packages come in 12 *18 inch sheets when fully opened. Use a pair of scissors to cut the sheets in half. To prevent drying, cover one stack with wax paper and damp paper towel while working with the other.

Use a pastry brush to brush the bottom and sides of your rectangular pan. Start by layering 6 sheets of phyllo making sure you brush each with the melted butter.

Add half of the nut mixture in an even layer. Flatten the mixture using a spatula. Continue layering another 6 sheets of pyhllo and then add the remaining mixture in an even layer. Top with remaining phyllo sheets.

Before you start baking, score the top layer of your phyllo to enable easier cutting of pieces later. Place the pan in the freezer to harden the top layers and then use a serrate knife.

Bake in a 325 degrees oven for 45 minutes. While the Baklava is baking, prepare your syrup.

Prepare the syrup by mixing water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Add some cloves and then simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. Remove the heat and discard the cloves. Stir in the lemon juice and allow the syrup to cool.

Ladle the syrup into the pan when the baklava is ready.

Risagalo

Greek rice pudding is thick, creamy and very delicious. The Greeks call this ‘glace’ and it resembles Arborio rice. You can try this recipe with either long or short grain rice, depending on what you prefer.

Ingredients

2 tablespoon butter, ¼ pinch of salt, 1 quart milk, 3 inch strip of lemon rind, 1/3 cup of rice, 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and ground cinnamon for serving.

Preparation

Start by melting the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add milk and salt and then let it boil.

Add rice and lemon rind and let it boil for about 25 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of your pot. When the rice is cooked, remove the lemon rind and stir in the sugar.

Add the warm milk mixture to the beaten eggs to temper them and prevent them from curdling.

Reduce the heat and add the eggs-milk mixture into the pot. Stir well and continue to cook until the mixture thickens. Remove the pot from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Let it cool.

Dust with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon. Enjoy your dessert at room temperature or chilled.

Halva

This dessert has Arabic origins but has been adopted by the Greeks and is widely served during the fasting periods. This is because the dessert has no eggs or dairy products.

Ingredients

2 cups of coarse semolina, ¼ cup olive oil, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, ¼ cup pine nuts, four 1/2 cups of water, ¼ cups raisins, two 1/2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup honey, three 4 whole cloves, 2-inch piece of orange peel, 3 small pieces of cinnamon stick and ground cinnamon for dusting.

Preparation

Add water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, honey, orange peel and cloves to a medium saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes and then lower the heat. Simmer gently and then remove the clove, cinnamon and orange peel.

In another bigger saucepan, over medium heat, add oil and heat until shimmering. Add coarse semolina and continue cooking. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Cook until the grains start to toast and turn a deep golden color.

Remove the pot from the heat and add hot syrup to the semolina mixture. Stir in the raisins, walnuts and pine nuts. Continue to cook until the semolina absorbs all the liquid. Cover the pot and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

Spoon the mixture into a pudding mold. Allow your pudding to cool to room temperature before serving. To serve, sprinkle with some chopped nuts and cinnamon.