Melomakarona are one of our Christmas traditional cookies which are infused in honey. They have no butter, no eggs, nothing dairy but they are so tasty you cannot just eat one. They can be preserved for a very long time but they get a bit dry as time passes. That does not make them less tasty but when the holidays are over and you still have leftovers, they make a great base for cheesecake or even best you can dip them into melted chocolate. However, if you like you can bake them and store them in airtight containers and have fresh ones whenever you like. You just preheat your oven and place melomakarona and warm them up. The syrup should be lukewarm and give them a lovely honey bath.
As with kourabiedes, melomakarona recipes differ from place to place. In some places they are more orange flavoured and in other spices prevail. This year I made melomakarona a bit different than last year’s, adding more spices and adding semolina as well. Instead of the traditional walnut, I used pecans and in some of them I added a piece inside as well. I used olive oil which was produced by my in laws in Sparta which is light and of an extra good quality. When I say light olive oil, I mean a lighter taste, as in some places of Greece and especially the islands, including Cyprus, although they have a very good quality of olive oil, it has a very strong taste
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Makes: 40 big ones and 15 smaller
Ingredients for the cookies:
250 grams (1 1/2 glasses) good quality light olive oil
200 grams (1 glass) sugar
190 grams (1 glass) fresh orange juice
30 grams brandy ( 1/2 wine glass)
945 grams (7 glasses Χ 135 grams) all purpose flour
100 grams (less than 1 glass) fine semolina
125 grams of pecans (half batch was filled and some were used to sprinkle on top)
1 teaspoon baking soda
orange zest from 1 orange (only a thin layer)
½ teaspoon cloves, powdered
½ teaspoon cinnamon, powdered
(Note) We use a normal drinking glass of water which should not be filled to the top. The glass was weighed and the scale was set to zero (0) before weighing.
For the syrup:
400 grams (2 glasses) sugar
500 grams of thyme honey (2 glasses were used for the syrup and a few teaspoons extra was used on top)
2 glasses of water
1 piece of whole cinnamon
3 – 4 cloves
Mix flour, semolina, sugar, cloves, cinnamon and orange zest in a bowl.
Add fluid ingredients: oil, brandy and orange juice, in which soda is dissolved, in the mixer bowl. Using K paddle start adding flour and mix until a dough is formed. The dough must be soft but not sticky on the hands. If dough is sticky, just add a little bit more flour.
Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
Prepare the syrup by adding sugar, honey, water, cinnamon stick, cloves and orange peel in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and remove any froth which forms. Simmer for 5 minutes and set aside.
Line a baking tin with parchment paper and shape melomakarona either round or oblong or use cookie cutters.
To stuff them, take a walnut size piece of dough and flatten with your fingers. Place half a pecan in the middle and fold to close.
You can skip this step but in order to make a design on one side, place the side touching your palm and press it on a grater and then turn over and place the sealed side on the baking tin.
Bake for 30 minutes, until they just start to get a light colour.
You can also make bite size cookies with a cookie cutter. For these smaller ones bake only for 15 minutes.
When baked, remove from the oven and immediately dip them in batches in the syrup for 1 minute. Turn them over for another 1 minute and remove with a slotted ladle in a colander.
Repeat with a new batch and when they have cooled transfer to a platter.
Place first layer and with a spoon drizzle some extra honey on top. Add crushed pecans mixed with 1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon and cloves.
Continue with a second and third layer. You can then put them in cup cake cases or leave them as they are.
I am sending this recipe to Andrea, of Andrea’s Recipes, for her event Grow Your Own, as the olive oil used was produced and given to us by my in-laws.