By Georgia Papastamou
Following two scorching weeks in Athens, we decided to seek out the best desserts that can be stored in the ideal spot – the freezer. Our default will always be ice cream, but during our extensive search we found stores, pastry shops and gelaterias that are inventing new and refreshing ways to sweeten us up.
Some places follow sophisticated pastry making techniques to achieve it, others experiment with unusual ingredients, and some import refreshing iced trends from abroad; either way it is always a pleasant surprise!
From sophisticated ice cream sandwiches and ice cream cakes that look like they’ve been delivered directly from the 1970’s, to alcoholic granitas with port and fresh fruits, Sicilian-inspired sweet sandwiches, and great vegan choices, these are the most impressive desserts we like to enjoy on our walks, our roof terraces or even at home with the air conditioning on.
Two of our favorite summer things in one: cocktails and granitas. Otherwise known as “ice cream drinks”. This is a very special way to enjoy your drink – like an ice pop. You will find these at Bios rooftop bar, with views of the Acropolis, served two ways: as a simple ice cream stick resting on a glass filled with ice, or as a “cocktail ice cream drink”, a frozen drink on a stick, served in the appropriate cocktail (for double the pleasure and double the alcohol). The recipes are created so that the granita and the alcohol freezes correctly, without too much sugar added, keeping the cocktail’s balanced flavor.
Try the deep red Basil Cobbler, with port, basil, strawberries and lime juice, Mango Daiquiri with aged rum, fresh lemon juice and fresh mango, Strawberry Daiquiri, Zombie or Amaretto Sour – all served on a stick.
Pireos 84, Τel. (30) 210.342.5335
The French influence
For fans of salty caramel, Ourse is offering an exemplary ice cream sandwich this year; finely crafted, with French techniques and created by pastry chef Spyros Pediaditakis, who worked at Michelin star-studded Spondi restaurant. So here goes: crunchy sablé (butter biscuit), salty caramel ice cream, salty caramel sauce, caramelized white chocolate coating with almonds and fleur de sel. This caramel has nothing to do with your regular sweet caramel, which is more akin to butter caramel, but rather is what it is supposed to be like – the caramel that retains its “burnt” bitterness, the essence of this dessert. The perfect balance between the sweet notes of the cream and white chocolate, the bitterness of the caramel and the saltiness of the fleur de sel result in a dessert that will definitely leave you wanting more.
Mistra 39, Glyfada, Tel. (+30) 212.106.7019
From the neon sign and interior design to the employee uniforms and white hats, this instagrammable gelateria on Mavili Square shows its love for vintage. But it does not stop at decor and design. Minute, and nestled in between a pizzeria and a bar, Epik opened its doors about one year ago and serves quality ice cream all year round, with flavors that remind us of the best destinations in Greece.
Using fresh cow’s milk from the Monastery of Timios Stavros in Corinth as a base, without any pre-prepared powders, it incorporates flavors from products sourced from select Greek producers (for example, the beloved fig ice cream with Katiki Domokou, a cheese made from goat and sheep milk, and wild fig spoon sweets preserve from the Teskou family in Ikaria. The nostalgic mood is also evident in the “cocktails”: glasses filled with ice cream and more. One of our favorites is “loukoumi” with vanilla ice cream, rose loukoumi from Syros, crushed butter biscuit and whipped cream. You will also find the showstopper, Alaska, in the fridge, which combines vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream with chocolate feuilletine and a generous layer of toasted meringue.
Dorilaiou 2, Mavili Square, Tel. (+30) 210.646.4105
Much has been said about Le Greche, and with good reason. Owner Evi Papadopoulou decided to study the art of ice cream making in Italy, under the guidance of gelato masters, and then went on to set up her own gelateria in Athens. The pistachio ice cream, made with pistachio paste from Brode (considered the “golden” variety), is considered one of the best. Other beloved options include rich gianduja, wonderfully milky fior di latte, zabaglione (cream with egg yolk and marsala wine), anthotyro cheese with bergamot and Aperol.
However, even the most frequent customers of Le Greche may have not noticed that the ice cream may also be served in traditional Sicilian fashion – brioche con gelato. Namely, ice cream served in a fresh, airy brioche bun, as it is served in traditional pastry shops in Sicily. Sound strange? Just one bite of the buttery, soft bread wrapped around the creamy gelato is enough to win you over. Ideally, order with some panna on top – the rich, very lightly sweetened whipped cream made in-house.
Mitropoleos 16, Athens, Τel. (+30) 216.700.6458
Lykourgou 2, Neo Psychiko, Τel. (+30) 213.041.6299
Rich and aromatic coconut milk, and custards made from nuts and fresh fruits are just some of the ingredients used by vegan pastry chefs to create desserts that can stand as equals next to ones prepared using more traditional ingredients and techniques.
Lisa Vavouri began making cereal bars and sweets without sugar, before moving on to creating desserts without using dairy products, eggs or butter. Her family tasted them, her friends tasted them; the likes and orders on Instagram followed suit. She now continues her experiments in her workshop and store in Glyfada, while also constantly enriching the menu. The refreshing semifreddo is a must-try; its texture is something between a cold mousse and an ice cream. The base includes nuts, dates and honey, while the cream is a combination of coconut cream, crushed cashews and honey.
Yum Guilt Free
Xenofontos 40, Glyfada, Tel. (+30) 210.961.3374
Elastic, soft, sticky and ultimately completely addictive – this is Japanese mochi. The texture of this dessert is its main characteristic, as it is made with mochigome, a type of sticky rice, and sometimes with added water, sugar and corn flour. Traditionally, the rice is made into a pulp that is given its desired shape in a ceremony called mochitsuki, but mochi can also be made with rice flour (cue swift moves and a little bit of trial and error).
The balls made of sweet rice paste are stuffed with various ingredients, such as sweet red bean paste and even ice cream. Wok Shop, the Asian mini market, stocks a great variety of ice cream mochi, filled with pistachio, mango, and vanilla ice cream, to mention a few. And here’s a great tip: mochi making lessons will soon be offered in-store!
This article was previously published in Greek by “K” Magazine.
Skoufou 2-4, Syntagma, Τel. (+30) 215.500.3849
Tatoiou 73 and Harilaou Trikoupi, Kifissia, Τel. (+30) 210.620.6008