Traditional Greek Christmas Dessert: Melomakarona

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Melomakarona – the staple Greek Christmas cookie! This dessert is often served throughout the Christmas period as they have no egg or dairy and are perfect as a treat for those fasting.

The cookie’s name is a fusion of the Greek words “meli” meaning honey, and “makarona” which stems from the word “makaria” meaning blessed.

To make melomakarona, follow the recipe below. Check out our Instagram reel for a visual guide too @thegreekherald. 

Melomakarona Recipe:

Serves: 40

Cooking Time: 1hr 30 minutes

Ingredients:  

Melomakarona mix: 

  • ½ cup of fine semolina
  • 4 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 flat tbsp powdered cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup of brandy
  • 1/2 olive oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable/sunflower oil
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Zest of 1 orange

Syrup:

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • A quarter of a lemon
  • Half an orange
  • 1 cup honey

Decorating:

  • 1 2/3 cups chopped walnuts

Method:  

  1. First, make the syrup. Add water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, lemon and orange in a pot and boil for 3-4 minutes (until the sugar has dissolved).
  2. Remove the mixture from the stove. Then add the honey. Set outside so the syrup mixture can cool.
  3. For the melomakarona dough, add olive oil and vegetable oil together. In a separate bowl squeeze one orange and add baking soda. Then pour the foamy mixture into oil.
  4. Add semolina, cinnamon, vanilla, honey, orange zest and whisk together.
  5. Pour flour and baking powder in a bowl and combine.
  6. Start kneading the dough using your hands, until the dough is smooth and soft and slightly sticky. Make sure to not overwork the dough as it will become tough.
  7. Preheat the oven at 180. Layer 4 baking trays with baking paper.
  8. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
  9. Pinch a portion of dough about the size of a walnut, 30g to be exact. Shape with your palms into a smooth oblong shape  –  similar to a small egg. Place on the baking tray, push lightly the top with a fork and pierce three times on top about halfway through the dough. Repeat.
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the melomakarona are lightly and evenly browned and cooked through.
  11. Once melomakarona is out of the oven, dip them immediately in the cold syrup, flipping them with a slotted spoon to absorb the syrup for approx. 10-20 seconds – depending on how syrupy you like them.
  12. Remove the cookies using a slotted spoon, place on a platter and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
  13. Store your melomakarona at room temperature in an airtight container and they will last for all your Christmas holidays!

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