Almond Sweets

Almond Sweets or Gemata

These almond sweets treats are among the oldest and most traditional sweets of the Greek islands.  These favorites can be found all over the Aegean Sea, it’s just the method of preparation that varies.  Today, in Mytilene, these sweets are recognized as the most traditional for weddings.  Its sweet taste and light color symbolizes the sweet beginning of a newly-married couple, but also the continued happiness they share throughout their marriage.

This treat also goes by other names, including “gemata” and “prospetasmata”.  This second name originates from the tradition where the bride-to-be offers the sweet to her mother-in-law and invited guests during the engagement period.  The unique shapes used in their preparation date back to ancient times, but most commonly resemble a small pear.      


7 cups crushed almonds
3 ½ cups sugar (tea)
2 cups water
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons rose water
Confection sugar


To prepare the syrup, we start off by boiling water and sugar over low heat and wait for it to begin caramelizing.  Add in the crushed almonds and mix thoroughly.  While continuing to mix, add in the lemon juice.  When the mixture evens out (homogenizes) and no longer sticks to the pot, remove from heat.  The next step is separating (while still hot or warm) the dough-like mixture into small amounts.  Dampen your hands with the rosewater, and shape a ball of the dough into the desired shape, then roll it amply in the confectioner’s sugar.  Place your sweets on a platter and sprinkle with sugar as desired.  As an alternative, you can also use in your recipe whole almonds, bitter almonds, or almond paste

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