These Xmas cookies, known as Melomakarona, are to a traditional Greek Christmas what Christmas pudding is to an English Christmas.
We were first introduced to them a few Christmases ago by our Greek friends (but of course). I can’t believe I have waited these many years to make them.
Don’t be fooled by the mile long list of ingredients or the number of steps below, which, quite honestly, is what intimidated me. These cookies are really quite simple to make.
Olive oil, honey and citrus notes make these cookies very different from the usual butter, sugar and vanilla versions.
The rich taste makes them a delicious dessert too.
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
20 mls whiskey
2/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of salt
300 grams flour
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
1 small cinnamon stick (about 2″)
3-4 whole cloves
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/3 teaspoon lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4 or 350 F.
- Rub the orange zest and sugar together to make a fragrant orange sugar.
- Mix the orange juice and the whiskey together. Add in the orange sugar and whisk till dissolved.
- Add in the oils and whisk together till they are well integrated with the juice, whiskey and sugar. Keep aside.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Slowly, add the liquid mixture to the flour and mix till you get a loose dough and wet dough. Stop mixing once all the flour has been incorporated.
- Make small balls, the size of walnuts with the cookie dough. Shape them into ovals. Flatten them lightly with a fork.
- Place the cookies on a parchment paper covered baking tray.
- Bake in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes until lightly golden – brown.
- While the cookies are baking, prepare the syrup: Mix together all the ingredients for the syrup, except the lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil then simmer it for about 10 minutes. Discard the cinnamon, cloves, and lemon zest. Stir in the lemon juice.
- When the cookies are baked and while they are still warm, dip them in the syrup so that they absorb it on top as well as the bottom of the cookie.
- Remove them from the syrup and scatter the walnuts over the cookies, pressing them in lightly. The sugar syrup will prevent the walnuts from falling off.
- Serve immediately or store them in an airtight container.
- The olive oil helps keep the cookies longer than regular butter cookies.
- This recipe has been adapted from a few different recipes to make a smaller batch of cookies and the sugar and honey quantities have been reduced. (The original version can be found at http://greekfood.about.com/od/cookiescakes/r/Melomakarona-Spiced-Honey-Cookies-With-Walnuts.htm)