Greeks during summer we count how many ice creams have we eaten, but around Christmas the battle has to do with melomakarona!
Greek Crhistmas honey cookies, or else melomakarona, along with the kourabies it is a Greek traditional dessert prepared during the Christmas holiday season. Most of the people I know they prefer melomakarona instead of the kourabies. But the eternal unanswered question doesn’t have to do with what is the most preferable dessert, the question is one: why we bake melomakarona only during Christmas? Why God? WHY? (Asking this question to God just as Joey was asking why he turned thirty on Friends)
No answer once again. Ok. I’ll continue writing.
As I said on my previous post, I have received two beautiful baskets from the Hellenic Food Basket. One out of the two baskets had inside pine tree honey and orange blossom honey. An orange blossom honey? Seriously? It was like the universe was screaming to me: Bake some honey cookies Teti, bake, bake, BAKE!
You see, typical ingredients of the melomakarono are flour, orange zest and fresh orange juice while after baking, they are immersed for a few seconds in cold syrup made of honey and sugar dissolved in water.
Οne way street, no other option. I had to bake. I got very anxious, I panicked. Everything happened so quickly and suddenly my melomakarona were in the oven. And then straight to the honey based syrup. And then…catastrophy. I was so impatient for my melomakarona that I removed them from the oven 5 minutes earlier. A decent melomakarono has to be moist inside and crunchy outside. Mine? Mine was indescribable. Seriously, I do not have any words. So, you can check the following picture.
Of course I did not thrown away my melomakarona, it would be a sin. I have eaten them. With a spoon.
Nevermind, since melomakarona are very easy to make I gave myself another chance. But this time I made smaller amount, meaning; around 40 melomakarona.
If you want your home to smell like Greek Christmas (e.g. cinnamon, clove, nutmeg) and you want the most flavorous and moist cookies then you have to bake some melomakarona immediately. Do that favour to yourself, everyone should taste melomakarona. It’s a sin not to taste them. Just for once in your life. (It won’t be just once, they are highly addicted.)
For making these little drops of heaven you have to have in mind three things:
- The syrup has to be cool, so schedule your time correctly and let it cool for 3-4 hours. The syrup must be cold by the time the cookies come out from the oven. You can prepare the syrup from the day before.
- Do not overwork the cookie dough, 10 seconds is ok. If you overwork the cookie dough the oil may start to seep out and then your melomakarona won’t turn out crispy.
- Don’t make the mistake to remove them from the oven before you make sure they are ready. They must be dark golden brown.
Are you still with me? Are you ready for making your melomakarona?
Ok, ok I’ll tell you how you will make them. The following ingredients will make 40 melomakarona of 30 gr each.
Ingredients for syrup:
- 250 ml water
- 350 g granulated sugar
- 80 g orange blossom honey
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 orange, cut in half
Ingredients for the cookie dough:
- 200 ml orange juice
- 200 ml sunflower oil
- 90 ml olive oil
- 25 g caster sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- grated zest of 1 orange
- 500 gr all-purpose flour
- 100 g fine semolina
- extra orange blossom honey
- 150 gr chopped walnuts
STEP 1: Making the syrup
For the syrup boil all of the ingredients, apart from the orange blossom honey, until sugar melts. Remove from heat.
Add the orange blossom honey and mix till combined. Let syrup cool for 3-4 hours. It must be cold by the time the cookies come out from the oven.
STEP 2: Making melomakarona
First you have to preheat the oven to 190* C fan and layer the bottom of a baking tray with parchment paper.
In order to make melomakarona you have to split the ingredients into to two separate mixtures. Mixture number one consists of the orange juice, sunflower oil, olive oil, caster sugar, ground cloves, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, baking soda and grated orange zest. Mix all the above in a large bowl by using a hand whisk.
In a separate bowl make mixture number two, which consists just flour and semolina.
Add the second mixture to the first one and mix by hand, very gently. Remember not to overwork the cookie dough, 10 seconds at the most. If you mix longer the mixture will split or curdle.
Mold cookie dough into oval shapes, 3-4 cm in long, 30 g each. Try to keep them as similar as possible. Place on the baking tray, push lightly the top with a knife and make some lines on top (not all the way down). By doing this, the syrup will insert the cookies more easily. Continue with the rest of the dough.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until they are crunchy and dark golden brown. The first time I baked them for 20 minutes and the result was as I said before, indescribable. So check them before you remove them from the oven, the cookies have to be dark golden brown.
As soon as you remove them from the oven, soak the hot cookies in the syrup for 10 seconds. Allow them to drain on a wire rack.
Drizzle with honey and chopped walnuts. Your melomakarona are ready to eat them. I have just to warn you once again, they are really addictive. After eating one, you can stop.
Food gift is always a good idea, so buy some cookie bags and give melomakarona as a Christmas gift to friends and family. Everyone will love them, trust me!
I hope to like my post and to bake some melomakarona for Christmas. Happy holidays to all, with or without melomakarona!