I have to warn you they are a bit troublesome but believe me well worth it! Just imagine the following flavors in your mouth all at once …orange, walnut, honey, clove, cinnamon…. Yum!
The Melomakarona are the most loved Christmas cookies. They are spiced cookies, fragrant from cinnamon, clove and orange zest. The cookies are then dunked in a syrup and topped with walnut crumbs.
For the dough
-2 cups olive oil
-1 cup sugar
-1 cup orange juice
-8 cups of pastry flour (or 7 cups of flour plus 1 cup of fine
-1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
-Zest of one orange-One 2 inch lemon rind
-pinch of salt
-1 tsp ground cinnamon
-2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 cup brandy (Metaxa)
-1/2 tsp ground clove
For the syrup
-2 cups honey
-2 cups sugar
-2 cups water
-1 cinnamon stick
-3 whole cloves
-1 tsp lemon juice
-1 strip lemon peel
-3/4 cup walnuts ground coarsely
Pre-heat the oven at 350F (180-200 Celsius)
- You should make your syrup first. To a pot add your sugar, water, honey, lemon peel, cinnamon stick lemon juice and cloves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes and then remove from the heat and allow to cool (Tip: the success of the recipe lies on the factor: "cool syrup and hot cookies" or vice versa).
- Into a large bowl, add the sugar and oil and blend with your hand mixer for 5 minutes and then add your orange zest, cinnamon and clove and mix in as well. Dissolve your baking soda in the orange juice (be careful it overflows!) and along with the brandy pour into the bowl.
- Now add the salt and baking powder in the flour and semolina flour and add into the bowl one cup at a time while mixing with your hands and kneading in with your hands until you’ve achieved a soft, pliable dough that’s not sticky. Allow the dough to rest covered for 30 minutes.
- Using your hands, roll the dough into small balls (about the size of ping pong balls), then form them into oval shaped shaped cookies.
- Place your cookies on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake in a pre-heated oven (middle rack) for 30 minutes until pastries are firm and golden brown. (Make sure the oven is hot before baking, otherwise the pastries will flatten).
- Using a large slotted spoon , drop the hot cookies into the cool syrup for no more than 3 minutes to absorb the syrup then flip for 1 minute on the other side. Reserve on a cooling rack and repeat until all the cookies are dunked in syrup. (OR let them cool down and heat the syrup and continue with the procedure. Remember: one of the two has to be cool while the other hot!)
- Sprinkle with crushed walnuts. Allow to cool. (Do not refrigerate!)
- Store in a cool, dry (air-tight) container for almost up to a month.
Watch this interesting video for more instructions!
For all the chocoholics out there! ... there are also chocolate covered Melomakarona as well!