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Melomakarona (Greek Honey and Spice Christmas Cookies)

December 12, 2014 by: Zoe Vlachos sweets ,Traditional Holiday Recipe

Melomakarona are quite simply the most delicious Christmas cookie on the planet! They are one of the two most popular traditional Greek cookies enjoyed over the holidays, the other being Kourabiedes. They are typically made in large batches to share with family and friends.  The aroma of cinnamon, orange peel and honey along with the combination of soft and crunchy textures send your senses to a very happy place.  It just wouldn’t be Christmas in our home without them!

Servings: Approx. 45 pieces at 1.5 tablespoons of batter per cookie

Ingredients:

Cookie Batter

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cups orange juice
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • orange zest from two medium oranges
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups fine semolina
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Syrup

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 7 whole cloves
  • peels from 1 medium orange

Topping

  • 2 cups finely chopped walnut pieces
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Directions: 

Since the cookies must be dunked into the syrup straight from the oven and the syrup must be at room temperature, prepare the syrup 2- 3 hours before you begin baking.  Using a medium size pot add the water, sugar, cloves, cinnamon and orange peels. Bring to a boil and then add the honey. Stir and remove from heat. Remove the cloves and orange peels using a metal sifter and set aside to cool.

To prepare the cookies you will require one large mixing bowl a whisk a wooden spoon and your hands- no electric mixer needed for this recipe.  Whisk the butter and sugar together then add the oil, orange juice, brandy, orange zest and spices.  Add the flour, semolina and baking soda and using a wooden spoon stir the wet and dry ingredients together and then use your hands to knead the dough  to achieve a soft consistency but don’t over work it. Using 1.5  tablespoons of batter per cookie, shape the dough and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Some popular shapes are made by rolling the dough into cylinders and slightly flattening them with the palms of the hands, or the dough can be rolled into balls and flattened, or the dough can be flattened onto a work surface and shaped with seasonal cookie cutters.Use a fork to pierce each cookie before baking. This will later allow for better absorption of syrup into the cookie. Bake in a preheated oven of 350 degrees F. until slightly golden- approx. 20-25 minutes depending on your oven.  Meanwhile you can continue to shape the remainder of the cookies onto other baking sheets if you wish to speed things up.

Submerge the cookies by dropping them into the syrup as soon as they are removed from oven for only a few seconds. Use a slotted spoon or metal sifter to lift the cookies out and onto a plate, where you will then top them with the walnut/ sugar mixture. They taste great warm and even better once they have cooled. Enjoy!

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