I grew up hearing stories from my parents telling me how lucky I was that I’ am experiencing times of abundance (concerning food of course) and anything I crave for I can have it! They were comparing my childhood with theirs when the only dessert they had was the spoon sweet. In fact, the hidden Spoon Sweet! Why hidden you may ask? Hidden because my grandmothers, having both of them many children and experiencing times of need they wanted to save this dessert for the guests, invited and uninvited ones that would show up to visit without notice.
It was inappropriate not to have something to offer them and the spoon sweet was a more than welcome treat and a symbol of hospitality. So, if it wasn’t hidden away there was no hope to be left for the guests..
But what spoon sweets are and why we call them like this? Spoon sweets are fruits or vegetables cooked in sugar with spices and herbs and preserved in heavy syrup. Sugar is a natural preservative so they can stay good for a long time.
They are called spoon sweets because the usual serving size is a well-filled teaspoon. Accompanied with a cold glass of water and a nice Greek coffee is a typical treat in the Greek countryside.
But every area has its own specialties. in Santorini , cherry tomatoes (Santorini is not only known for its scenic beauty but also for its one of a kind tomatoes. The trademark Santorini tomato is tiny as it is appetizing) seasoned with cinnamon and stuffed with blanched almonds, are preserved in syrup;Chios is famous for its grape, fig, and mandarin spoon sweets; walnuts, rose petals and sour cherries are the Ikarian specialties (Ikaria is a beautiful Greek island in the Aegean sea); Crete is known most for raisin and grape spoon sweets but baby eggplants also; Aigina for its pistachio spoon sweet since they have big production there. The list is endless like the recipes. Every kind of fruit or vegetable requires different amount of sugar, different spices, herbs and nuts. They have one thing in common… They are all delicious and one of the most innocent desserts that someone can consume since they do not contain any fats such as butter. Spoon sweets are often used as toppings on ice cream, cheesecake or Greek yogurt and for cake decoration and flavoring. Taste a variety of spoon sweets with Greek yogurt during our delightful “Athens Food Tour”.
Allow me to share with you a memory of my childhood. My grandmother was making the most amazing quince spoon sweet ever. Try it and you will be amazed with what a dessert you can create with such simple ingredients..
Quince Spoon Sweet
- 3,5 pounds quince
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 4,5 cups water
- 4,5 pounds sugar
- 4-5 apple geranium leaves
- Peel and core the quince
- Grate the quince (use the bigger holes of the grater) or if you are very patient cut it with a knife like matches
- Put it in a pot with the water and lemon juice, and cook until the quince are almost soft, about 15 minutes should be enough
- Add sugar and simmer for another 15 minutes
- Leave it until completely cool or even better until next day.
- Boil again until the syrup thickens and add the the apple geranium leaves.
- Leave it until completely cool and store in clean vases