Dec 19, 2010

Melomakarona, the greek cookie that says Christmas is here

My family keeps complimenting me today that our house smells Christmasy because I made melomakarona to get the holiday season in gear here at Flubberwinkle home. It's been a few years since I made this traditional Greek recipe and tough times call for heartier and merrier homemade holidays. 

This recipe is definitely Greek because it requires a lot of olive oil and honey. Daughter#1 informs me that each cookie has about 150-180 calories. The upsides: (1) it's a VERY simple recipe, (2) after kneading with such an oily dough you have soft hands all day, (3) they keep for about a month without refrigeration, at room temperature in a container, (4) I almost forgot: They're delicious!

2 cups olive oil
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup brandy
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 cups all purpose flour

For the syrup
2 cups honey
2 cups sugar
2 cups water

For garnish
1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Makes: 40-50 melomakarona

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes


Blend the first 6 ingredients in blender for 4' at high speed.
Sift flour with soda and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
Open a hole in the center of dry ingredients and pour in the mixture of liquid materials.
Take a little bit of flour around the edges of the bowl as you mix it with the wet ingredients and knead gently.

To roll melomakarona, pinch a portion of dough off about the size of a walnut.
Shape in your palms into a smooth oblong shape, almost like a small egg.
Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Shape and roll cookies until the sheet is filled.
Bake at 175C (350F) for about 25-30 minutes, or until lightly or well browned (note: they will get even darker when submerged in the syrup).

Prepare the syrup by boiling all the ingredients together for 5 minutes. Remove any foam.
Carefully submerge melomakarona in the syrup and allow them to absorb syrup on both sides.
Remove melomakarona with a spatula and place on platter.
Mix ground walnuts and cinammon together and sprinkle on melomakarona.

Do not refrigerate melomakarona as they will harden. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. They will keep for one month at room temerature.

Credits: This recipe is based on Ms.Vefa Alexiadou's recipe found in her book "Greek Pastry Kitchen", but like most cooks I have tweaked a couple of things for my taste (replaced 1/2 cup shortening with 1/2 cup olive oil and did not add 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves for garnish).