These deliciously aromatic cookies are a must-bake treat in every single household in Greece during Christmas, along with kourabiedes, vasilopita and diples.
They are incredibly soft, moist, and flavoursome, soaked in a delicious honey syrup and garnished with roughly chopped walnuts.
The word “melomakárona” is a combination of the two words “meli”, meaning honey and “Makárona” which comes from the ancient word “makária” meaning blessed.
Ingredients (makes 32 pieces)
- 200 g sunflower oil
- 80 g butter softened at room temperature
- 100 g white sugar
- 50 g freshly squeezed orange juice
- 50 g Brandy or Cognac (or replace with the same amount of orange juice)
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- A pinch of both orange and lemon zest
- 500 g white flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking (bicarbonate of) soda
- 300 g white sugar
- 100 g honey
- 200 g water
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 70-100 g finely chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 180C and place baking paper on two oven trays.
Mix the wet ingredients, the softened butter and the sugar in a mixing bowl. You can use a standard mixer or beat well by hand till the sugar is dissolved and the butter is well integrated.
Add the spices and zest and mix again.
Add the flour last and continue mixing for a couple of minutes until combined. The smooth dough shouldn’t be overmixed; otherwise, the oil will ooze out.
Cut out little parts of the dough (about 30 g each) and shape into oval forms. Place on the prepared trays with some spacing in between and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the trays and place on cooling racks till completely cooled.
In the meantime prepare the syrup.
Add the sugar, honey, water and lemon juice in a smallish saucepan and boil on medium heat, while stirring occasionally to make sure the sugar and honey are completely dissolved.
While the syrup is still bubbling on low heat, fully submerge the cooled-down melomakarona for a couple of minutes, occasionally rotating them.
Remove them from the saucepan and place on a dish. Sprinkle with the crushed walnuts and serve immediately or keep stored in a sealed container.
Text and photo by Eva Kala Harvison
Eva is a (Greek) mom to a five-year-old “troublemaker” who, together with her (Kiwi) husband, are her toughest taste judges. Her dream is that at some point in life, she will have gained enough international knowledge and culinary experience to be able to share her creativity outside her private circle of family and friends.