Today we feature a popular dessert eaten throughout Greece and Cyprus. Authentic loukoumades are basically Greek donuts. They are drenched in a honey-based syrup, sprinkled with cinnamon, sesame seeds and crushed walnuts. And they’re easy to make.
Our version of authentic loukoumades comes with a twist. For the batter we use labna (strained yogurt, also sometimes called labna cheese) and no yeast. The use of the labna delivers a lighter batter, precluding the need for the yeast. The sweetness comes from the honey syrup and cinnamon. It is a decadent treat and typical of desserts in Greece and Cyprus.
Worried, you can’t find labna? Don’t worry; labna is easy to make at home with Greek-style or Turkish-style yogurt.
We also take a look at the popular desserts throughout Greece and Cyprus. As you would imagine, many of the famed ingredients of the region feature heavily in the most popular desserts. Think honey, walnuts and seasonal, fresh fruits. Filo pastry also features prominently. Read on to discover more.
Greek & Cypriot Desserts
Greece and Cypus also share many common dishes with their neighbor Turkey. Bragging rights are important! And perhaps the most famous discussion around whose version is best, centers around the incredibly popular baklava.
There has been an age-old argument as to it’s origin and whose version is superior. Greece or Turkey? There are slight differences between the two versions. Turks generally use crushed pistachio nuts for the filling and Greeks generally use crushed walnuts. Outside of that, the crisp filo pastry and delightful, honey-drenched, nut filling is a sublime pleasure in both Greece and Cyprus. You can read more about Turkish desserts here.
Some other popular desserts in Greece and Cyprus (Cypriot name in brackets) include:
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- Galaktoboureko (galatopoureko), a dessert of semolina custard/cream filling in filo.
- Kataifi (kandaifi), those magnificent strands of pastry, wound into a cigar shape and soaked in syrup.
- Mahalepi, (machaleppi) probably Cypriot in origin but also found in Greece, Turkey and Lebanon. It is a creamy pudding which floats in rosewater syrup.
- Rizogalo, rice pudding, a no butter, egg-free dessert, which looks more like a thick custard and is flavored with vanilla, lemon peel or orange zest.
- Daktyla, lady fingers filled with ground almonds and cinnamon sugar.
- Bourekia, filled with cinnamon-flavored anari cheese (substitute with ricotta). May also be savory.
- At Christmas you will find kourambiades, or shortbread biscuits, as well as melomakarona, spicy buns drenched in honey syrup and baked.
- Spoon desserts, pictured below. You can read more about spoon desserts here.
But it is not all honey, syrups and custards. Fresh, in season fruit plays a major part of the Greek and Cypriot diets. Think strawberries, black cherries, plums, apricots, peaches and nectarines. Then there are watermelons, grapes and figs.
And what about a dessert wine to accompany these brilliant desserts?
How about commanderia? Did you know, commanderia is the world’s oldest, known, named wine? So good Richard the Lionheart called it, “The wine of kings and the king of wines”. From Cyprus, the grapes are picked late and dried in the sun to enhance the sugar content and give the wine a mature, almost burnt flavour. It is not unlike port.
For a Greek treat, how about mastika? The alcohol to have at the end of a meal. Mastika often accompanies desserts made with almonds and is served at wedding feasts as a digestive. It has a sweet smell and flavor similar to anise. Variations are also found in Bulgaria, Macedonia and Romania. Raki, in Turkey, Iran (arak) and Greece, is also similar in that it is made with anise.
And so to our authentic loukoumades recipe for today.
No Yeast Authentic Loukoumades Using Labna
We made our authentic loukoumades with labna. It is easy to make. A tub of Greek yogurt, two minutes’ work and twelve hours in the fridge, is all you need. There is also a myriad of other uses for labna.
You can use Greek or Turkish yogurt as an alternative, but you will need to reduce the amount you use because of the much higher water content. Make the labna, you will love it!