Truth be told, there’s no ‘modern twist’ here. The recipe for these little snowballs of heaven is as traditional as it gets!
Why? Because we cannot bake Greek treats inspired by our home island of Spetses and not have these exactly as they’re meant to be.
It’s like Cornwall without proper scones… Doesn’t happen.
Anyhow, amygdalota (ah-meeg-da-loh-ta or almond & blossom water cakes to you) are considered the crown jewel of sweet treats in the Aegean. Made mostly of ground almonds with a little honey, butter and a dash of cognac, they’re dipped in blossom water and then dredged with icing sugar.
There are many versions of this aromatic symphony found mostly on the small islands, with Spetses claiming to be the OG. People often travel from Athens just to pick up a box of these delights from one of the 3 main confectioners on the waterfront.
This particular recipe is the exact recipe created by Lucy’s nona (godmother), almost 50 years ago. And yes, the one we use ourselves.
Providing amygdalota for literally dozens of weddings and baptisms over the years (all for zero monies and just for the passion of it of course), word has gotten round that Lela’s are the best on the island.
In fact, it has seen multiple cake shop owners and confectioners knocking on Lela’s door for the prototype. Who, in her own words, “have never managed to get it right cos all they care about is making profit so they skimp on ingredients and lose the love in the process”.
We know we could never measure up to Lela’s prodigy. We can only hope that sharing her (and now, our) recipe for these little bites of heaven gives it the love it deserves 🙂
Images taken from Lela’s home kitchen where she regularly shows us the ropes.
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Portions: yields approximately 30 pieces
- 750g blanched almonds
- 300g caster sugar
- 75g semolina (or rice flour for gluten free)
- 20g unsalted butter
- 100ml water
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 egg
- 1 shot of alcohol of your choice (ouzo, cognac, rum, brandy)
- 150ml blossom water
- 400g icing sugar (won’t use it all)
Step 1. Start by preparing the almonds. Preheat the oven to 160C fan. Toast the almonds in a baking tray until lightly golden (about 10 minutes). Allow to cool. Chop – NOT finely grind – in a food processor.
Step 2. Transfer the almonds to a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and semolina. Set aside.
Step 3. Gently melt the butter in a small pot or milk saucer. Turn off the heat and add the honey and water. Stir to combine.
Step 4. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg with the shot of alcohol until light and frothy. Slowly add the melted butter mixture and stirring/beating continuously.
Step 5. Add the wet ingredients (egg/butter mixture) to the dry ingredients (almonds/semolina) and combine by hand to form a ‘dough’. Keep a little bowl of water on the side so that you can occasionally dip your hands in for them to stay clean and add just a tiny bit of moisture to the dough at a time. Don’t over handle, just a little rolling and coming together for 4-5 minutes, adding droplets of water if required.
Step 6. Once the dough has come together, take a little handful of the mixture at a time to form a ball. Repeat until you have approximately 30 pieces of dough in your mixing bowl.
Step 7. Grease 2 baking trays with melted butter. Take each dough ball and shape into a 3-point star, filling up the trays as you go. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden.
Step 8. Using a spatula, carefully transfer (they will be very soft and may break whilst warm) each star on to a wire rack or a marble surface to cool down completely.
Step 9. Meanwhile, pour the blossom water into a small mixing bowl. Lay 2 clean linen or cotton towels on to your work surface area.
Step 10. Once the amygdalota have cooled, dip each star very quickly into the blossom water and then arrange on to the towel. Leave to dry completely (about 5-10 minutes depending on the room temperature).
Step 11. Add the icing sugar to a deep rectangular tray or dish. Once the amygdalota have dried, take 3-4 at a time, place in the tray or dish and using your hands, cover each one with icing sugar. Arrange each amygdaloto side by side on to a clean part of your work surface area to form multiple rows.
Step 12. To finish, add the remaining icing sugar out of your tray or dish to a sift or dredger. Sprinkle the sugar over each row from a height.