Greek Christmas cookies with honey and spices (melomakarona)

The melomakarona are traditional Greek cookies made for Christmas. To make them we use olive oil, caster sugar, liquid honey and spices (cinnamon and cloves in powder). The secret lies with this recipe because it’s very different from existing recipes in Greece and this is why it’s so special and so absolutely marvelous! Cookies are puff in mouth and slightly crispy even if they are immerged in syrup! Isn’t this absolutely great? Try them and you will see I am right!

So why aren’t you making them yet? It’s easy to make, very very good and healthy! Furthermore, there is no butter! They are 100% vegetarian since ages!

In two words: 

“The experience of someone who lived until now with intensity of all moments of his life”

José de Almada Negreiros, Ultimatum Futurista As Gerações Portuguesas Do Século XX Tweet
To Start...

difficulty easy
preparation– 10′
cooking - 25’ (or 30’ for bigger biscuits) + resting time 10h-12h
serves - 23 small cookies or 15 a bit bigger


Ingredients

for the biscuits

  • 2 + ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon of baking powder
  • just a little bit of salt
  • ¾ cup of olive oil
  • ¼ cup of caster sugar
  • 1/8 cup of orange juice
  • 1/8 cup of cognac
  • ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • a bit of ground cloves (*)
  • the zest of ¼ of an orange

for the syrup

  • ½ cup of caster sugar
  • ½ cup of water
  • ½ cup of liquid honey (**)

to bring everything together

  • 60gr of walnuts

Steps

for the biscuits

  • Preheat the oven at 180°C
  • Sift the flour in a bowl
  • Add the baking powder and the salt
  • Stir in together the spices and add them to the bowl also (***)
  • Stir everything together with a whisk in order to break even all ingredients
  • Add in a bowl:
    • the olive oil
    • the orange juice
    • the cognac
    • the orange zest, and
    • the sugar
  • Beat everything together with an electric hand mixer
  • Add the flour one tablespoon at a time, at least in the beginning, and then, towards the end, use your hands to bring the dough together
  • Form small round cookies or equal size and place them in a tray
  • Take each cookie and press it with your hands to be like a small thick disk and place it in a tray going to the oven, take the back of a fork and make small incisions on top but not very deep, they need to be quite shallow
  • Bake the cookies for 25’ in the oven; if you make bigger biscuits you need to adjust cooking time around 30’  

for the syrup and how to immerge the cookies in it

  • Add in a small casserole :
    • the sugar
    • the water
    • the honey
  • Turn the heat on and stir with a wooden spoon
  • You must heat-up the syrup for 5’ and remove the mousse that will form on top of it with a tablespoon gently or a skimmer spoon
  • If the cookies are cold, you need to heat them up a bit until they are slightly warm and then pour the hot syrup on top
  • Let the cookies to rest one night (or ~10h) until they absorb as much syrup as possible
  • The next day or after about 10h you need to return the cookies gently on the other side in order to absorb the syrup from this side too (about 1h-2h or more)
  • Once they have absorb all the syrup closely to them you can pass to the next step and bring everything up together

to bring everything together

  • Chop walnuts either with a knife or with an electric chopper but not very fine
  • Return and place the cookies in a plate and sprinkle the chopped walnuts on top (****)
  • Form successive layers if one layer is not enough, but place some parchment paper between the layers to prevent them from sticking to each other
  • Enjoy and Merry Christmas!!!

What’s the story behind this dessert?

Ces gâteaux au miel et aux épices sont les gâteaux traditionnels grecs pour Noël !  Ils s’appellent melomakarona or μελομακάρονα et dans la consonance du mot on a le son de « macaron » donc je disais souvent à mes connaissances en France qu’ils sont les macarons grecs mais qu’ils sont fait à l’huile d’olive, au miel et aux épices et n’utilisent pas de crème ou d’œufs !

Everybody in Greece is making these desserts during Christmas or they are buying them because we can find them everywhere! There are many recipes and many more techniques to immerge them in syrup! But this recipe is the best ever because the resulting cookies are the best I have ever eaten! Its particularity? They remain puff and slightly crispy (in French we say friand) in the mouth even if they are immerge in syrup :) The secret is certainly due to the proportions but also to the manner that the cookies as immerge with syrup because they are not actually immerged instead the syrup is poured on top and the cookies absorb the syrup they need so this way of doing is by far more easier and less violent but it takes more time!

Try them and you will see :) if you make this recipe once you will not be able to forget these Greek cookies! And all the other recipes are, if I dare say, useless!

Run to your kitchen then ;) What are you waiting for? 

Inspiration

This recipe was passed to me thanks to my dear friend Soula who in her turn had this recipe thanks to her neighbor Mrs Despina who had found it in a small book with recipes coming from a Greek brand that makes powders to make creams! This brand is called “Yiotis” and still exists in Greece and the little book dates from 1963!

This is an old recipe and maybe for this reason it is sooooo f…. goooooooddddd! Really it will be too bad to let it and pass through!

(*) If you cannot find ground cloves or in powder, you can take some cloves and crush them in a mortar and remove some of the powder that is formed, you need just a little bit because cloves have a really strong taste.

(**) If you honey has become a bit solid , you need to heat it up a little bit and it will become liquid again.

(***) Instead of adding the spices into the flour as I explained above , you can add them into the liquid ingredients and beat them with the rest before adding the flour/baking powder/salt mix.

(****) If there is not much syrup on top of the cookies, il faudrait en mettre en peu plus sur le dessus en prenant du sirop qui reste sur plat ; il faudrait prendre les biscuits très délicatement parce qu’ils sont très friands, si vous préférez vous pouvez mettre le sirop par-dessus avec une cuillère à café même si je ne l’ai jamais fait !

o-o C'est si bon ! o-o

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