Taste of the season: 3+1 sweets and treats to make this holiday

Every holiday season, families come together to celebrate with cherished customs and prepare a bounty of delectable treats, using traditional recipes and treasured local ingredients.

Edited by Paulina Björk Kapsalis


As the festive season unfolds it brings with it a tapestry of flavors and traditions that turn kitchens into treasure troves of culinary delights. Get in the festive mood with our handpicked selection of these exquisite sweets and treats. From the honey-drenched diples, and the delicate loukoumades, reminiscent of doughnut holes but with a uniquely Greek twist, to the traditional lallagia each recipe is a testament to the rich culinary heritage of Greece. Discover these delectable recipes, steeped in tradition and perfected over generations, to delve into the heart of Peloponnesian festive cooking.


Originally a dessert prepared for weddings and engagements, today, diples is everything we want in a Christmas treat. Prepared from thin slices of pastry that are deep-fried and drenched in honey syrup, they are the definition of finger-licking good.

Though made with simple ingredients, it’s challenging to prepare; the dough must be thin and crisp, skillfully fried in fine quality extra virgin olive oil, and then sweetened with pure Greek honey. The trick to making great diples is mastering the shape; while the pastry fries, but before it gets too crunchy, fold it into cylinders using two forks.


  • For the dough
  • 10 eggs
  • 7 cups flour
  • ½ wine glass of ouzo
  • Navarino Icons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for frying

For the syrup

  • 1 kg (5 cups) Navarino Icons Pure Greek Honey with fresh honeycomb
  • 1 kg (5 cups) sugar
  • 2 cups water


In a bowl mix the eggs with the ouzo. Add flour and knead until the dough becomes soft. Roll out the pastry about ½ cm thick and cut into slices. In a deep-frying pan heat the olive oil, drop in the slices and fold. Turn them quickly and fry. Remove immediately and place in a bowl. Boil the sugar with the water. Add honey and boil until it thickens.
Drizzle the syrup over the diples. Serve on a platter, sprinkled with crushed walnuts.



Like doughnut-holes, but better, loukoumades are a popular treat amongst Greeks year-round, but a must during the holidays. Traditionally eaten in many places around the country on New Year’s Eve, they are enjoyed with petimezi (grape must) or plenty of honey, cinnamon and ground walnuts. The morning of New Year’s Day, when they have become soaked, warm up some honey with a little water and dip them in it to be syruped again, and eat them as the first meal of the new year, hoping for a sweet and prosperous year ahead.


  • 4-6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 scant tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp instant dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp Navarino Icons Pure Greek Honey
  • 2 cups warm water, or more as needed
  • Navarino Icons Extra Virgin Olive Oil,  for deep frying
  • 1-2 cups Navarino Icons Pure Greek Honey
  • ground cinnamon
  • coarsely ground walnuts


In a large stainless-steel bowl, mix 4 1/2 cups of the flour with the salt. Dissolve the yeast, sugar, and 1 tablespoon of flour in 1/2 cup of warm water. Make a well in the center of the bowl of flour and pour in the yeast mixture. Add the remaining water. Gradually work enough flour into the liquid to form a thick, viscous, sticky, loose mass, either by hand (you can wear thin rubber gloves to do this) or with a large wooden spoon. The dough for loukoumades should be wet. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place a large kitchen towel over it. Leave to stand in a warm, draft-free place for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size. Fill a large, deep pot halfway with olive or other oil, and bring to a boil.

To shape the loukoumades traditionally: Lightly grease your hands with olive oil. Take a handful of the dough about the size of a tennis ball from the bowl – it will be loose, stringy and elastic. If you are right-handed, pull up the dough with your left hand; if a lefty, pull it up with your right hand. Clench your fist around it loosely. Have a cup of olive oil nearby to dip a tablespoon in. Squeeze out a knob of the batter between your curled-up index finger and thumb, scoop it up with the oiled tablespoon then drop carefully in the hot oil. Repeat with several more.

As soon as the dough puffs rise to the top and are light golden brown, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all the dough is finished. Replenish the oil if necessary. Drizzle your lokoumades with honey, sprinkle with cinnamon and walnuts, and serve warm.


No festive occasion would be complete without lallagia, one of the most famous Messinian treats, endlessly versatile, and truly delectable. Essentially fried dough ribbons, at Christmas, they are made into special holiday shapes, such as circles and stars. Enjoy them as they are for a snack or with dinner; or as dessert, served with petimezi (grape must) and powdered sugar, or honey, walnuts, raisins and cinnamon.


  • 2 kg all-purpose flour
  • 2 glasses of Navarino Icons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 kg sourdough starter or two 9 g sachets of dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp of Navarino Icons sea salt
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp of ground cloves
  • 2 tbsp of white sesame seeds
  • lukewarm water


In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, the sourdough starter or the yeast and water until you have a thick batter. Cover and let it rest for an hour to rise. Rub flour with Navarino Icons extra virgin olive oil. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well, and then make a well in the center. Pour the risen batter and water in the well in the mixture, and then knead until the dough is smooth on the outside, and springs back when pressed with your fingers. Cover the dough with a tablecloth and a blanket on top, and let it rest in a warm location for 1-5 hours. Cut dough into small plum-sized balls and roll into cord-like shapes. Place them on a tablecloth and let them rise for an hour. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan and fry your lallagia in batches until golden brown and crispy.

Note: Lallagia can be stored for at least 10 days.

Bonus treat:

Olive oil, Almond and Blood Orange Cake

It’s never too late for a new tradition. This recipe, created by vegetarian cuisine expert Deborah Madison, is moist, rich, and full of local Messinian flavors from Navarino Icons extra virgin olive oil, citrus fruit, and almonds. We love it with our coffee on Christmas morning, or as dessert, served with some olive or tomato spoon sweets on the side.


  • 1 cup cake flour or all-purpose white flour
  • 3/4 cup finely grated blanched almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • finely grated zest of 2 blood oranges
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup Navarino Icons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/3 cup almond flakes tossed with 1 1/2 tbsp sugar


Grease a 9-inch spring-form pan with olive oil, then dust the sides and bottom well with flour. Heat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Blend the flour, almonds, baking powder and salt in a bowl using a whisk. Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, whisk the eggs with the sugar and orange zest at medium-high speed for several minutes, until pale and thick. Lower the speed and add the olive oil, followed by the orange juice and almond extract. With the machine still on low, add the flour mixture by the heaping spoonful until all is incorporated. Remove the bowl, then use a wide rubber spatula to scrape around the bowl, making sure all the flour has been combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the almond and sugar mixture over the top. Bake in the middle of the oven for 50 minutes to an hour, until firm, browned and pulling away from the sides of the pan. A cake tester should come out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan, then run a knife around the sides. Transfer to a cake plate. Serve with the Navarino Icons Olive or Tomato Spoon Sweet on the side.

Embrace the essence of tradition and flavor this holiday season as you cherish these time-honored recipes with local ingredients elevating your holiday celebrations into unforgettable experiences.