This month Aφrodite’s Kitchen is putting together “12 Recipes of Christmas”. 12 recipes geared for the festive season, including cookies, breads, salads, vegetables, dips, drinks, and foods you can make with family or friends. Each week in December, we will post one of these wonderful Christmas recipes on Cypriot and Proud. To check out the others, you may click here where one recipe will be posted every two days until 25 December. And today’s recipe needs just a little introduction. “Melomakarona” are cookies sweetened with honey and spices. In English, I’d call them “honey cookies”. Everyone seems to have their own preference of how these should look, taste and feel. The recipe below is given to me by my Greek friend’s mom years ago. I gave it a test run today and modified it a bit with the addition of hazelnuts, and a few other things. They are moreish to say the least. These “melomakarona” are great. They are high in flavour, and a bit crumbly in texture. If you are a Christmas-cookie newbie, “melomakarona” are good cookies to start with, though the stage when you dip the cookies in syrup can be a bit fiddly – but they are totally doable. Also, make sure you add enough flour. The dough should be soft, but not too oily (though if the dough is left to rest, you will see a little oil coming from the dough even when it’s ready). Don’t be alarmed if your cookies crack while baking, this is actually a good thing because it means that they will absorb a lot more of the syrup. When dipping the syrup, don’t leave the cookies in more than 10 to 15 seconds otherwise you might get soggy cookies, which is not so great. There are lots of pictures below to help guide you.
Level of Difficulty: 3/5
Preparation Time: about 4hrs (3hrs cooling time, though you can rush it if you want.)
Cooking Time: about 20-25 minutes
Makes about 80 cookies
For the cookies
3 cups peanut oil
3/4 cup orange juice
zest of 2 oranges
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 1/2 tsps baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup ground lightly roasted almonds
1/4 cup ground lightly roasted hazelnuts
1/4 cup grounded lightly roasted walnuts
6 cups of flour (you may need more flour)
coarsely ground walnuts for sprinkling on top
For the syrup
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 cup of honey
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
3 few cloves
1 whole orange peel
2. Mix all the ingredients except the flour together with a hand whisk, then slowly mix in the flour until the mixture becomes thick.
3. Use your hand to finish mixing the dough.
4. Form the melomakarona into oval shapes and put them in the cookie sheets and bake them for 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Let the “melomakarona” cool – at least a couple hours.
6. Once the “melomakarona” are cool, prepare your syrup. Put all the syrup ingredients except the honey into a pot on the stove. Bring the syrup to a boil. Add the honey and bring to a boil again, then lower the temperature to a simmer (i.e. the syrup is still boiling, but just on “simmer’ level!). Dip the cookies in a few at a time for a few seconds (maximum 10-15 seconds).
7. Remove the “melomakarona” and place on wax paper. Sprinkle with coarsely ground walnuts. And that’s it – enjoy your amazing cookies, which also make for fabulous Christmas gifts!