The melomakarono is an egg-shaped Greek dessert made mainly from flour, olive oil and honey. Along with the kourabies it is a traditional dessert prepared primarily during the Christmas holiday period.
Typical ingredients of the melomakarono are flour or semolina, sugar, orange zest and/or fresh juice, cognac (or similar beverage), cinnamon and olive oil. During rolling they are often filled with ground walnuts. After baking they are immersed for a few seconds in hot syrup made of honey and sugar dissolved in water. Finally, they are decorated with ground, as well as bigger, pieces of walnut. Dark chocolate-covered melomakarona are also a more recent variation of the traditional recipe.
For the cookies
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- ¾ cup sugar
- zest of one orange
- ¾ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup brandy
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 7½ cups plain flour (all-purpose flour)
- ¾ cup walnuts, ground coarsely
- ground cinnamon for sprinkling
For the syrup
- 1 cup honey
- 1 cup sugar
- 1½ cups water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 - 4 whole cloves
- 2½ - 5 cm piece lemon rind
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 175°C.
- In a small bowl, using your fingers, combine the orange zest with the sugar – rubbing the grains as if you were playing with sand to release the orange oils into the sugar.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the oil with the orange sugar until well mixed. In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Add the orange juice and brandy to mixer and mix well.
- Slowly incorporate the flour cup by cup until the mixture forms a dough that is not too loose but not quite firm either. It will be dense and wet but not sticky. Once the flour is incorporated fully stop mixing.
- To roll cookies, pinch a portion of dough off about the size of a walnut. Shape in your palms into a smooth oblong shape, almost like a small egg. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Shape and roll cookies until the sheet is filled.
- Press the tines of a large fork in a crosshatch pattern in the centre of each cookie. This will flatten them slightly in the centre. The cookies should resemble lightly flattened ovals when they go in the oven.
- Bake in a preheated 175°C oven for 25 – 30 minutes until lightly browned. (The cookies will darken when submerged in syrup.)
- While the cookies are baking, prepare the syrup.
- In a saucepan, combine the honey, sugar, water, cinnamon, cloves, and lemon rind. Bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the cinnamon, cloves, and lemon rind and stir in lemon juice.
- Place the ground walnuts in a shallow plate or bowl next to the stove top. When the cookies come out of the oven and while they are still very warm, carefully float the cookies in the syrup and allow the cookies to absorb syrup on both sides.
- Using a fork or small spatula, remove the cookie from the syrup and place on a platter or plate. Press ground walnuts lightly into the tops of the cookies (syrup will help it adhere) and sprinkle lightly with ground cinnamon.
- Do not refrigerate Melomakarona as they will harden. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.