Amygdalota

May 21st, 2008 | By | Category: Almonds, Baking, Cookies, Dessert, Greek, Greek Traditions

Today is the Patron Saints’ Day for Constantine & Helen in the Greek-Orthodox calendar. For those of you who are Greek or those who are friends of Greeks, you’ll know that we have alot of Constantines and Helens out there.

My brother plus three first cousins share being named after my maternal grandfather, Konstantinos. My mom’s sister is named Eleni. My uncle’s wife is named Elly (from Helen). One of my first cousins just gave birth to a baby girl who will be baptized Konstantina. We have friends of the family who also have Constantines & Helens in the family.

The phones will be ringing off the hook in our household and in Greece. It is a modern custom to give family or friends a phone call to wish the person who’s celebrating their “Name Day” a “Hronia Polla”!

This modern custom is an extension of a fading tradition where friends and relatives would drop by the home and pay their respects with their presence. However, the custom is that on this day, guests DO NOT bring gifts. The celebrant (or family) is responsible for treating guests to an offering of food, snacks, a drink or a coffee with sweets.

Amygdalota are a fabulous little cookie. Think Amaretti but the almonds are not roasted. Think Macaroon, but with ground almond. The first time I had these cookies was in the small, postcard perfect Greek island of Hydra.

It’s located in the Saronic Gulf, not too far from Athens and it’s town bylaws prohibit the use of automobiles (save for municipal services) on the island.

Through my travels to many Greek islands, I’ve noticed that a few other islands have jumped on the Amygdalota bandwagon and go on to produce their own island’s version.

Today, these almond cookies can be found all over Greece and can be bought in practically every bakery. There are nuances to the recipes, like the use of different essences, orange blossom being the most common.

My mom’s recipe stick’s to the key ingredient, almonds and she adds a few drops of almond extract to underline this delicate cookie’s main ingredient.

Amygdalota

(makes about 36)

4 cups of blanched almonds
1 1/2 cups of white sugar

4 tsp. of almond extract

4 egg whites, room temp.

A large handful of of almonds, cut in half

Pre-heated 350F oven

  1. In a blender or food processor, pulse the almonds in batches into a fine grind.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients with a wooden spoon until well-mixed and stiff.
  4. Drop heaping Tbsp. mounds of almond mixture (1 inch apart) onto the sheet. Gently place an almond half into the center of each cookie.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until firm at the edges but still soft in the center and golden.
  6. Remove from the oven and foil or parchment to a wire rack to cool. When cool, peel off and store in a tightly covered container.

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© 2008 – 2011, Peter Minakis. All rights reserved.

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43 Comments to “Amygdalota”

  1. Bellini Valli says:

    I have yet to have the pleasure of trying this cookie Peter..preferably (if not in TO) then on the island of Hydra in Greece..overlooking the sea:D

  2. Sylvie says:

    Those look lovely and I love the taste of almonds.

  3. Patricia Scarpin says:

    I absolutely love baking with almonds, Pete, and these look so delicious!

  4. Elly says:

    I feel like I am ALWAYS saying this, Peter, but amygdalota are definitely one of my favorite things. I’ve never made them myself but I think I’ll give them a try soon.

  5. glamah16 says:

    What a light simple cookie. I need to make these .

  6. Sam Sotiropoulos says:

    I can definitely vouch for these cookies! They were quite tasty, and especially good as they were still warm when I tried them. :) I have posted a recipe on my blog for these as well, and as you mention in your posting, I opted for the orange blossom water for a slight hint of flavouring as that is how our family makes them. As for you Constantines and Helens, na sas zhsoun! Xronia Polla!

  7. vb says:

    Yum, almonds! Always room for almond cookies. This recipe looks great.

  8. Meghan says:

    As an italian, we use a lot of almond in cookies…and these look wonderful. I love the idea of using blanched almonds…. I can almost taste the purity of the flavor.

    These are getting made in my kitchen, for sure… but they won’t be as lovely as yours!

  9. Judy @ No Fear Entertaining says:

    Once again I love the history lesson I get when I visit. The cookies look great Peter!

  10. Catherine Wilkinson says:

    Good Lord, you’ve helped me today…I was just last night wondering about the huge bag of sliced, blanced almonds I have from Costco! Do you think these would freeze well? Or would the delicacy be lost?

  11. Peter M says:

    Val, you could probably even sneak in a taste at a Greek bakery in V-city.

    Sylvie, I concur.

    Patricia, we baked similar things today!

    Elly, beyond the cost of the almonds and the mundane peeling of the skins, it’s a cinch!

    Glam, not hard at all and real tasty.

    Sam, I’m going to try some with the orange blossom in it too.

    VB, I think I’ll go have one now.

    Meghan, if you like Amaretti, then Amygdalota will satisfy just as much, if not more.

    Judy, we are an old people…stuck in many wonderful traditions.

    Catherine, go ahead & freeze them, they hold up well. Just bring back to room temp. before serving.

  12. MEDITERRANEAN KIWI says:

    xronia polla peter, those amigdalota look absolutely delicious!

  13. Jan says:

    Love the background on your family. Plus the cookies look lovely.
    Amygdalota-ally,lious in fact!!!

  14. Jen of A2eatwrite says:

    Oh, these look superb. I hope your mother has a lovely time with friends and family today!

  15. Peter G says:

    Love this with a capital “L”. They look easy and quite healthy too. I hate to say it again Peter, just Beautiful

  16. Gloria says:

    These looks lovely Peter and yumm! and love the china dish Too!! xGloria

  17. Ruth Elkin says:

    I love almonds in cookies. These look so beautiful Peter!

  18. Sandie (Inn Cuisine) says:

    It’s enjoyable to read about how you and your family celebrate various holidays, as I have had little *real* exposure to Greek culture.

    I’ve heard of these cookies but never tried them, not even in the Greek restaurant where I once worked. Now perhaps, I will bake them (but I’d much rather grab them from a bakery while vacationing in Greece!)

  19. Maryann says:

    Thank you for your comment, my buddy.
    I could use a cup of this chocolate. It’s so dark and cold here today.
    Well, ok. I’ll have a cookie too :)

  20. Lisa says:

    A very enjoyable post Peter. This is one custom I could get into. Maybe I will make treats for my friends and family on my birthday to thank them for their companionship and love. I think perhaps, I will make these little cookies.

  21. Susan from Food Blogga says:

    Ooh, they remind me of a soft-centered biscotti. They’re lovely, and I simple have to try them, Peter!

  22. Mary says:

    These cookies are so pretty! Are they crispy all the way through or are they chewy? And I love how I learn something every time I visit.

  23. Peter M says:

    Maria (kiwi) thank you so much.

    Oh Jan, here…have a bite!

    Jen, it’s a bit of a whirlwind but fun.

    Pete, they are delicate little morsels.

    Gloria, it’s just the tray for the coffee and sweets.

    Ruth, I luv almonds, period.

    Sandie, I don’t think a Greek restaurant will serve these but a Greek bakery surely would.

    Maryann, anytime gal-pal…i’m here for you ya wanna chat.

    Lisa, that sounds like a wondeful idea…I guess you wouldn;t be handing out hams? lol

    Susan, similar to Amaretti, I’d say.

    Mary, they are soft & chewy on the inside.

  24. Heather says:

    Just for the record, I did comment on this this morning, but for some reason it didn’t take. I made a joke about the amygdala or something.

    I could eat a whole plate of those things.

  25. Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says:

    A lovely little cookie, your mom is a darling to spoil everyone like that.I thin I will also like mine plain.

  26. Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says:

    A lovely little cookie, your mom is a darling to spoil everyone like that.I thin I will also like mine plain.

  27. Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says:

    A lovely little cookie, your mom is a darling to spoil everyone like that.I thin I will also like mine plain.

  28. Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says:

    A lovely little cookie, your mom is a darling to spoil everyone like that.I thin I will also like mine plain.

  29. Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says:

    A lovely little cookie, your mom is a darling to spoil everyone like that.I thin I will also like mine plain.

  30. Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says:

    A lovely little cookie, your mom is a darling to spoil everyone like that.I thin I will also like mine plain.

  31. Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says:

    A lovely little cookie, your mom is a darling to spoil everyone like that.I thin I will also like mine plain.

  32. Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says:

    A lovely little cookie, your mom is a darling to spoil everyone like that.I thin I will also like mine plain.

  33. Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm) says:

    A lovely little cookie, your mom is a darling to spoil everyone like that.I thin I will also like mine plain.

  34. Fearless Kitchen says:

    Mmmm….almonds…. this looks fantastic. I can just smell them baking in my kitchen.

  35. Kevin says:

    These almond cookies sound good!

  36. Núria says:

    Celebrating the saint day is also a tradition here… but since I’m not religious I refuse to celebrate it. Plus my dauther doesn’t have a saint day… or does she? Maybe you can help me, she would love to know! Remember her name? Nausicaa (I think it’s spelled this way in greek).
    Thank you querido chico :D

    You can find these almond cookies here in the bake shops too!!!!

  37. We Are Never Full says:

    I absolutely LOVE these cookies! I jsut never knew what they were called. I also like them because they contain my name.

    amy

  38. Peter M says:

    Nuria ,Nausica does not have a Name Day, so she would celebrate on All Saints Day.

  39. Proud Italian Cook says:

    May I dip?

  40. Kyblossom says:

    I was at a Greek festival this weekend and had a cookie similar to these, except these were large and crescent shaped and had almond paste in them. I would love to find the recipe and had thinly sliced almonds on top. I would love to find the recipes for these cookies.

  41. elly says:

    Peter, thanks for the great recipe! Just a heads up – your directions don’t give an oven temp (I used 350 when I made them). :)

  42. […] but they do add a nice consistency in an Eton Mess. My version using some Greek ingredients like Amygdalota (almond) cookies and Mastiha from Chios to perfume the whipped cream. I chose raspberries over […]

  43. Stamatia says:

    Mine always seem to come out really flat – is that a good thing, or a bad thing? If the latter, I wonder what I’m doing wrong…?

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