Greek Christmas Honey Cookies (Melomakarona)
- DF VE
This traditional Greek Christmas recipe is a must-bake in our household come Christmas time, infusing the house with that festive scent of baking, orange, cinnamon and spices. It’s also our go-to gift, when visiting friends and family over the festive period. Instead of a bottle of wine or bunch of flowers, we tend to create a plateful of Melomakarona and Kourampiedes to take round for the host (sometimes there’s a bottle of wine too, of course!)
These Greek Christmas cookies take their name from a mixture of ‘meli’ - honey, and the ancient Greek word ‘makaria’ - blessed. With that kind of meaning, you can see the reason that they’re a central part of foodie Greek Christmas traditions (as well as for their taste, of course). Once soaked in honey, these biscuits are moist, flavoursome and gently spiced - in short, the perfect Christmas mouthful. In some regions Melomakarona are known as Finikia, but occasionally recipes for Finikia ask you to deepfry them instead of oven bake them. Don’t worry about making too many - they always get eaten one way or the other. Traditionally, we use any Melomakarona crumbs to make these walnut-filled Kariokes! These are a great Christmas dessert, or an addition to your midmorning cup of coffee - it’s Advent, after all, so it’s time to indulge! I love to sit down in a cosy chair for ten minutes and eat a honey cookie, taking in a moment’s quiet during the festive rush. I highly recommend it!
Syrup: In a small pot add the water, sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves and half an orange. Simmer them in low heat for 10 minutes and stir occasionally for the sugar to dissolve completely.
Remove the pot from the heat and add the honey. Stir well to incorporate the honey into the syrup and set aside to let it cool.
Cookies: In a bowl add the orange juice, baking soda, sugar, seed oil, olive oil, orange zest, brandy, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, and whisk them until they are well combined.
Pour the liquid mixture from the previous step into the bowl and mix lightly for about a minute by hand or a spatula. Do not over-mix!
Take a small portion of the batter and shape it into a small oval shape, and using a fork make small holes to it (this will help them absorb the syrup).
Place them on a baking tray covered with baking sheet and bake them in a preheated oven at 180ºC (350 F°) for about 25 minutes.
In the method above I deep the warm cookies in the cool syrup. It can also be done the other way around; Hot syrup with cooled cookies. The taste in both cases will be the same!
You may also bake the cookies in advance (i.e. the previous day(s)). Just deep them in hot syrup and they’ll be equally fresh and tasteful.