Traditional Greek Christmas Cookies…
Created by Kari Ray and Katie Loeppke
I love Christmas…all the decorations, the baking and family traditions. One of my favorite family traditions is baking something new. Combine this with a desire to experience the culinary traditions of other countries and I found myself making Melomakaronas. I was introduced to this yummy new treat by a friend who spent two years in Greece, and we worked together to create this authentic tasting recipe.
Melomakaronas are a traditional Greek Christmas cookie soaked in a syrupy combination of sugar and honey and sprinkled with pecans and cinnamon. These delicious cookies are infused with flavors of orange, cloves and nutmeg, making them a perfect companion to a warm cup of tea or coffee. Not only do these cookies fill the house with those warm Christmas aromas we all love, but they are super easy to make. And the best part? The longer they soak in their honey/syrup mixture, the better they are, making them ideal to make ahead for holiday parties and gatherings.
Nothing says Christmas cookies like cinnamon and spices. These cookies are so yummy you can’t eat just one!
For the Cookies:
- 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup vegetable oil (I used avocado oil)
- 3/4 cups sugar
- Zest of 2 oranges
- 3/4 cup orange juice (I used the juice of 2 oranges)
- 1/2 cup brandy
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 Tbs ground cinnamon
- 1/3 tsp cloves
- 1/3 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the Syrup:
- 1 cup honey
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 inches lemon rind
- 1 Tbs lemon juice
For the Garnish:
- 3/4 cups pecans chopped
- Cinnamon to sprinkle
To Make the Cookies
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine orange zest and sugar.
- Pour the oils into the sugar/orange mixture and stir until well combined.
- Add orange juice and brandy and stir.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt.
- Add the flour mixture to the liquid slowly until a stiff, wet dough forms. The dough will be very oily…this is normal.
- Form a heaping tablespoon of dough into a ball and place it on a baking sheet. Use a fork to flatten the dough making a criss-cross pattern.
- Continue this until all the dough is formed.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cookies are lightly browned.
To Make the Syrup
- Combine the honey, sugar, water, cinnamon, lemon peel and cloves in a saucepan, then bring to the boil.
- Turn down the heat and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes until the syrup has thickened slightly.
- Once thickened, take out the cinnamon, lemon peel and cloves and stir in the lemon juice.
To Finish the Cookies
- While the cookies are still very warm, float them in the syrup a few at a time, turning them over to make sure they soak up plenty of liquid. After about 30 seconds, take the cookies out with a slotted spoon.
- Place the syrup soaked cookies back on the parchment covered baking sheets and sprinkle with chopped pecans and cinnamon.
- Drizzle any remaining syrup over the top of the cookies. The more syrup sinking into these cookies the better!
The longer they soak in their honey/syrup mixture, the better they are! So feel free to make these ahead of time and enjoy for several days. Store in an airtight container.