GREEK HONEY COOKIES - MELOMAKARONA (2024)

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Moist Christmas Greek honey cookies called melomakarona taste like cake but it is so much more: many delicious layers and flavor complexity that arise from different spices, orange, and delicious, sweet, gold honey. So simple to make but extremely flavor-compact.

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Although this recipe is based on pure olive oil like many Greek treats, honey is the star for this recipe. These cookies are bathed in honey syrup which makes them so soft, delightfully melting in your mouth that, in all seriousness, it is impossible to eat only one. No kidding!

In the end, they are garnished with chopped walnuts.

The recipe's history

Not surprisingly these cookies are an all-time favorite for Christmas in Greece. Along with kourabiedes (Christmas butter cookies) and diples (honey rolls), melomakarona is the traditional sweet in almost every Greek home.

Not interested in food history? No problem, Jump to Recipe

The roots of these desserts lie deep in the centuries, lost in the culinary history of the Mediterranean Basin, in the eating habits of ancient Greeks, Romans, and the Islamic culture that influenced and transformed every single regional cuisine.

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These honey cookies for instance: Melomakarona = “Melo” from honey and “makarona” coming from macaroni which is –guess what? – Right! Greek! Macaroni derives from the word «μακαρωνία», a funeral dinner where a pie called «μακαρία» was served.

Later on, they had a brilliant idea to add honey to that pie and that’s how melomakarona was born. But why Christmas honey cookies? It is simple. Honey symbolizes fertility and well-being for the new year to come.

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Ingredient shopping list

You are going to use the simplest ingredients in the whole baking world.

FLOUR. Simple all-purpose flour. Gluten-free flour will work just fine too.

OLIVE OIL. No butter for this recipe, only a generous amount of olive oil. I use extra virgin olive oil but you may add a lighter olive oil.

HONEY. A key element in melomakarona is the honey because it is used in syrup. You know the syrup where baked cookies soak, giving them moisture and a sweet, syrupy finish.

SUGAR. Don’t freak out about sugar. You may replace it. I wouldn't change anything from my family’s recipe out of respect for my grandma and because it is so incredibly awesome like this. Come on, it’s Christmas, guys. Enjoy your Christmas cookies without guilt.

Nevertheless, these cookies have olive oil, honey, orange juice, and walnuts and offer tons of antioxidants. Just saying.

CLOVE AND CINNAMON. These warm and aromatic spices add depth and complexity to the flavor profile of melomakarona.

COGNAC or BRANDY. It enhances the overall taste profile of the cookies. It contributes depth and complexity, bringing out the buttery and nutty notes in the dough.

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How to make melomakarona

I am excited to share my family’s recipe and all the “behind the recipe secrets”, and techniques. Because I want your Christmas honey cookies to be the most popular treat all over your town or just to make your home smell like Christmas.

Description: Take the liquid ingredients and mix them with flour. Shape the dough and bake it. Let the honey cookies cool while making the syrup. Bath the cookies in the hot syrup. Garnish with walnuts. Boom. Christmas honey cookies are ready.

TIP FOR THE DOUGH. Stir gently and knead without overworking the dough. No more than 2 minutes from the moment you incorporate the flour.

TIP FOR THE FLOUR. There isn’t a right quantity of flour. Greek home bakers usually add flour “as much as it takes”. Well, I know this is not very helpful but my tip will be. Add the flour gradually and check the dough.

I have estimated more or less 8 cups (1kg) of flour for that recipe. Add 6 cups and shape one cookie. Let it rest for a couple of minutes. If it keeps its shape and doesn’t melt down, you are good to go. Otherwise, incorporate more flour into the dough and check again. This is the most important cooking tip for this recipe.

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TIP FOR THE SYRUP AND STORAGE. There is an endless debate about the right timing for syrup addition. Some say you should add hot syrup on cold cookies, others disagree, etc.

My way is to make a huge bunch of honey cookies and to keep them in food containers WITHOUT soaking them in syrup. Even without syrup's moisture, they are an excellent and convenient snack.

When I want to serve them or offer them as a gift I make the syrup and adjust it to the quantity I want to serve/offer. So, the cookies are cold when they take a hot syrup bath.

Another way is to add the syrup right from the beginning and keep the honey cookies in a well-sealed food container for over a month. No fridge.

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TIP FOR SHAPING. The traditional shape is oval and the honey cookie's size is more or less the size of a palm. You may like the traditional decoration on their surface by using a fork. Pinch lightly only the surface. Another way is to press lightly the cookies on a cheese grater. This technique will help the cookies to soak better the syrup.

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My Christmas honey cookies are ready

Enjoy your cookies with a hot cup of coffee or herbal tea. As mentioned it is an excellent snack.

You may make them even a month before Christmas. Bake them and keep them in a food container. They will last one month for sure and even more.

Recipe

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GREEK HONEY COOKIES - MELOMAKARONA

Sylia

Moist Christmas Greek honey cookies called melomakarona taste like cake but it is so much more: many delicious layers and flavor complexity that arise from different spices, orange, and delicious, sweet, gold honey. So simple to make but extremely flavor-compact.

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Prep Time 15 minutes mins

Cook Time 20 minutes mins

Course Dessert

Cuisine Greek

Servings 40 cookies

Ingredients

THE DOUGH

  • 1½ cup (370ml) olive oil
  • ⅔ cup (150ml) orange juice
  • 1tablespoon orange zest
  • ⅔ cup (150ml) cognac or brandy
  • 1-1½ cup (200g-300g) table sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 7-8 cups (1kg) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups (250g) walnuts, chopped

THE SYRUP

  • 2 cups (500ml) water
  • 1-1½ cups (200-300g) table sugar
  • 1 cup (340g) honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Instructions

THE DOUGH

  • Preheat the oven at 200°C / 390°F.

  • In a big bowl, combine the olive oil, sugar, orange, orange zest, cognac/brandy, sugar, clove powder, cinnamon powder. Whisk well for 1-2 minutes to dissolve sugar.

  • In another smaller bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and baking soda and add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture. Use a spoon and gradually incorporate the flour.

  • After adding 6 cups of flour, the dough is too firm to stir with the spoon. Use your hands to gently fold the dough from the bottom to the top. Knead for no more than 2 minutes. Add gradually more flour.

  • It is time to check the dough. Shape one cookie and let it rest for a couple of minutes. If it holds its shape, the dough is ready. If the cookie is melting down, add more flour to the dough and repeat.

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (optional), shape the cookies in any form you like, and place them leaving some distance between them. Pinch lightly their surface with a fork or press gently the cookies on a cheese grater.

  • Place the sheet in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Let them cool.

THE SYRUP

  • In a saucepan on medium-high heat add water, sugar, the cinnamon stick. Boil for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Let it cool for about 10 minutes and add the honey. Whisk until it dissolves and remove the cinnamon stick.

  • Dip the cookies into the hot syrup with a slotted spoon for 5-10 minutes. The time depends on how sweet and soft you want them. Test the first one and adjust the time accordingly for the rest of them. Then dip them in batches to save time, rotate them, and remove them.

  • Place them on a large platter and immediately sprinkle chopped walnuts. Alternatively, place them in a well-sealed food container and keep them out of the fridge for a month.

Notes

A clever way to enjoy those cookies is to make a huge batch 3-4 weeks before Christmas and to keep them in food containers WITHOUT soaking them in the syrup. They are an excellent and convenient snack even without it.

Then, when you want to serve them or to offer them as a gift at Christmas, make the syrup and adjust it to the quantity you want to serve/offer. Don't forget the chopped walnuts.

Keyword Greek honey cookies

GREEK HONEY COOKIES - MELOMAKARONA (2024)
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