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Portokalopita fuses oranges and spices marry in this distinct dessert.

Portokalopita is a mouth-watering Greek dessert that is sure to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. It’s a confection that is steeped in tradition, and its unique blend of citrus and spices is just one of the reasons my Los Angeles personal chef clients, husband, and friends relentlessly request it (HA!).

What is portokalopita?

The name “portokalopita” is derived from the Greek word “portokali,” which means orange. This dessert is made from dried up phyllo dough that you fold into a creamy, orange-flavored custard. In the final step, you drizzle the pastry with a sweet syrup that is infused with orange juice, cinnamon, and cloves. This is similar to one you would use for baklava. The result is a dessert that is perfectly balanced – not too sweet, but with just the right amount of citrusy tang. In fact, portokalopita is often served at traditional Greek celebrations, such as weddings and baptisms. Like most desserts, I also love eating it for breakfast. 

A portokalopita full of possibilities.

Icing on the pastry

One of the best aspects about making portokalopita is that you want your phyllo dough to be dried out. Usually, one of the biggest challenges with working with phyllo (for a spanakopita or other phyllo pie) is that it dries out and breaks. For this decadent dessert, that’s exactly what you want. I like to use scraps from my other phyllo pies that I freeze/save after I trim them. All I do is defrost and let them dry out by laying them on a sheet pan. If you haven’t prepped the phyllo this way in advance, you can also dry it out in the oven.

Prepping for portokalopita

If you’re interested in trying portokalopita, there are a few things that you should know. Firstly, it’s a dessert that requires  just a bit of preparation, so it’s best to set aside some time to make your plan. However, each step is easy, so don’t stress. Secondly, please read over and follow this recipe carefully before you make it. You will want to time making the syrup in advance enough to cool it before it goes on the pastry. And like I mentioned above, you will need to allow time for the sheets of phyllo to dry out. Additionally, you also need to give the pastry time to let the syrup soak in fully. Finally, with a little bit of practice, making portokalopita can be a fun and rewarding experience. And, once you’ve mastered the recipe, you’ll be able to enjoy this delicious dessert all the time. 

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