Melomakarona (Greek honey cookies) are one of the most popular treats throughout Greece during the Christmas Holidays and the intense aromas of delicate spices makes every house smell like Christmas.
μελομακάρονο is an egg-shaped Greek dessert made mainly from flour, olive oil, and honey. Along with the Kourabies it is a traditional dessert prepared primarily during this festive season.
Typical ingredients of the Melomakarona are flour or semolina, sugar, orange zest and/or fresh juice, cognac (or similar beverage), cinnamon and olive oil. During rolling they are often filled with ground walnuts. After baking they are immersed for a few seconds in hot syrup made of honey and sugar dissolved in water. Finally, they are decorated with ground, as well as bigger, pieces of walnut. Dark chocolate-covered melomakarona are also a more recent variation of the traditional recipe.
This easy-to-follow traditional Greek melomakarona recipe makes 60 of these delicious festive Greek Christmas cookies, plenty for everyone to try. Serve over a hot cup of coffee and you have a match made in heaven!
- 1 1⁄2 cups light olive oil or 1 1⁄2 cups corn oil
- 1⁄2 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup orange juice (or more)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground cloves
- 2 oranges, zest of, grated
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups fine ground semolina (cream of wheat or farina)
- 6 cups flour
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1⁄2 cups sugar
- 1 1⁄2 cups greek thyme honey
- 1 cup water
- 3⁄4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
- Put the corn oil, butter, beer (or orange juice), cinnamon, cloves, orange peel, and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until they are thoroughly blended.
- Sift about one cup of flour with the baking soda, baking powder, and salt and blend into the oil mixture.
- Add the semolina, a cup at a time, into this mixture.
- Add enough of the remaining flour, a cup at a time, until you get a rather firm dough (you may need a bit more or less than the amount of flour mentioned in the ingredients list).
- Use your hands to do the mixing, as an electric mixer will be useless after the first two or three cups of flour have been added.
- Roll the dough into cylinders, about two inches long and one inch in diameter, flatten them with your hands, and place them on cookie sheets that have been greased with a little olive oil.
- Bake at 350 degree Fahrenheit for half an hour.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and pour hot syrup over them.
- Lay the cookies out in a rimmed baking pan large enough to contain them and pour the hot syrup over the cookies, sprinkle them with the chopped walnuts and let them soak overnight.
- (Alternatively, if you do not have enough rimmed baking sheets to accommodate all the cookies, you can dip them in batches directly into the hot syrup – keeping the syrup at the lowest possible simmer – and allow to soak in the syrup for 8-10 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon).
- For the syrup: mix the sugar, honey and water, and bring to a boil.
- Cook on low heat for four minutes and skim off the foam that forms on top.
- The next day put them on your prettiest platter, sprinkle each layer evenly with the finely chopped walnuts and wrap with plastic wrap (or put in an airtight container) and serve.
- These are great keepers and will last for months!
While you’re baking Melomakarona, listen to these beautiful Greek Orthodox Christmas hymns and enjoy an authentic experience!