An ice cold glass of water with a spoon in it will bring fond memories to any Greek person’s mind.
A classic childhood treat, an ypovrichio or “submarine sweets” (not to be confused with “spoon sweets” just because they’re served on a spoon) have just three basic ingredients all in all; water, sugar, and confectioner’s glucose, which are simmered until combined. Then the mixture is chilled, and finally made light and fluffy in a mixer. That’s the base. Most submarine sweets are then flavoured (with natural or artificial flavourings), and some are tinted with food coloring. The classic flavors are vanilla and mastic gum, but today you can find all sorts of new and interesting variations.
The thick, sweet paste is served on a large spoon plunged in a tall glass of cold water. We’re not talking about extremely demanding confectionery techniques here, but about the purest and most innocent of desserts. It’s simple and refreshing.
You dip, you lick, you take a sip. With water, ice, and minimal effort your sweet treat is done. Add something extra like lemon slices, fresh mint, or rose petals, and you have a dessert that will impress anyone.
Below are some of our favorites available on the market:
Submarine sweets we love
The classic vanilla flavor here is subtle, with soft milky notes. Aside from vanilla and mastic, there are several other options. The raw sugar version is especially worth trying. While this store is famous for its “chalva” (another traditional sweet to experience while in Greece), the submarine sweets here are also exceptional. They are smooth and not too thick, with a chewy texture that doesn’t stick to your teeth.
Kosmidi-Gavrili Store (Ag. Dimitriou 7-9, Drapetsona Pireaus), or e-shop: www.e-halvas.gr
From these Thessaloniki based chalva experts, we tasted the submarine sweet with Chios mastic. It is snow white, almost liquid, melts in your mouth, and has all the intense aroma and flavor of natural mastic. Don’t let a single runaway drop go to waste as it detaches from the spoon and swims around the glass. It’s too good!
Supermarkets Masoutis, E-bloko shops
This company is based in Chios; the home of mastic, so how could we not try this classic flavor again? It’s an excellent product. It’s the color of white sugar, quite thick and very aromatic. Quench your thirst with the sweet-scented water if you like. Make it even better with a few thin slices of lemon.
The Mandragoras grocery stores produce their own submarine sweets in Pireaus. We tried the delicious rose-flavored version. The thick paste is swirled with rose syrup and tiny pieces of rose petals, which enhance the flavor and overall experience.
These submarine sweets from Ikaria are smooth, yet chewy, quite thick and compact. The mastic flavor, which is made with natural mastic oil, is extremely flavorful. They produce many flavors, of which one of the most interesting is the black forest. It has chunks of cherry spoon sweet mixed in, and when it dissolves in the glass of water, it tastes like a light cherry juice.
Kolios (Athinas 35, Athens, Τel. +30 210.324.1477), Batavia (Grypari 138, Kallithea, Τel. +30 210.953.1014), Loumidi coffee grinding and roasting stores
A bit harder than the rest, but flavorful from the natural mastic oil. The vanilla is straightforward and not too sweet. The Vomvyla family has a long history as submarine sweets producers, having been in the business since 1950.
The story of Bariamis Sweets started in Agrinio in 1930, when the Bariamis family started their business of producing traditional sweets. The submarine sweets are pleasantly compact, smooth, and aromatic. Try the excellent version with the essential oil from mandarin orange.
Ianos deli (Stadiou 24, Athens, Tel. +30 210 321.7917), Paradosiako Bakaliko (Proklou 31, Varnava Sq., Tel. +30 210.756.0055) Culpa deli (Solomou 1, Neo Psychiko, Tel. +30 210.671.9900)