The melomakarona is a delicious Greek Christmas cookie comprised of an olive oil biscuit soaked in a honey syrup and sprinkled with chopped walnuts.
I must admit, though I love Greek food, I had never heard of these cookies before a colleague of mine requested them. I am always up for a challenge and constantly looking to broaden both my culinary knowledge as well as my Christmas table. So needless to say, I took her up on the challenge, unaware of what exactly I was looking for.
After numerous hours of research on the melomakarona, and trying to understand its composition and desired texture without ever having tried one, I was ready to take a stab. My first batch had a nice flavor, but the texture seemed off. For having soaked the cookie in syrup, they were still too hard. I was able to rectify the problem on the second time round. When judgement day finally came, I brought two samples into work for my colleague to try. I figured it would be less disparaging with only two cookies, had she not liked them, than with an entire tin she didn’t want. But the result …two thumbs up! She received an entire tin the following day.
Though these cookies have no significance in my Christmas memories, I felt honored to have been given the chance to give somebody else a gift of comfort from Christmases past. And perhaps the melomakarona just may become part of my own Christmas tradition.
The Honey Syrup:
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 200g honey
- ½ lemon, juiced
1. In a medium size saucepan, add water, sugar, honey and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until sugar is fully dissolved.
2. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
- 4 ½ cups flour
- 1 1/4 cup olive oil
- ½ cup cognac
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- 1/8 tsp cloves
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2/3 cup sugar
- Walnuts, chopped
- Sea salt
1. In a large mixing bowl, measure out flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Stir.
2. Add the oil and stir well with a wooden spoon.
3. Then add the cognac.
4. Pour the baking soda and baking powder into the cup of orange juice and stir while holding it over the cookie mixture. It will froth and overflow into the mixture. Dump the rest of the juice in, as well as the orange zest and combine.
5. The cookie dough will be quite wet, but still workable to roll into little balls. Using a tablespoon, scoop the dough into the palm of your hand and roll it into an oblong shape. Place on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.
6. With a fork, press the cookie. Bake for 25-30 minutes in a preheated oven at 200°C.
7. Remove cookies from the oven and immediately drop them into the syrup for about 15-20 seconds.
8. Place the melomakaronas on a plate and sprinkle with chopped walnuts, cinnamon, and sea salt.
*Note: Though these cookies will stay for a couple weeks at room temperature in an air-tight container, I do recommend keeping them in the freezer until the day you plan to eat them.