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Melomakarona – The Quintessential Greek Christmas Cookie

melomakarona recipe
A recipe for Melomakarona, a Greek Christmastime favorite, is an essential for any Greek baker at this time of year. Credit: Nostimo/Greek Reporter

Melomakarona are some of the most beloved of all Greek cookies. Made with olive oil, flour, honey, and citrus, melomakarona are much healthier than most holiday treats. The addition of cinnamon and walnuts makes the cookies irresistible.

Today’s melomakarona contain chopped walnuts and are sprinkled with ground walnuts as well. More modern versions have them enrobed in dark chocolate.

The origin of the scrumptious cookie surprisingly dates all the way back to ancient Greece. At funerals, ancient Greeks would eat a barley mixture called makaria.

Scholars argue that through the years, “makaria” developed into the cookie we know today. The addition of honey, or “meli” in Greek, to the cookie, gives us the name “melomakarona.”

This eventually became the most popular sweet eaten during the twelve days of Christmas. Greeks in Asia Minor also ate this delicacy but gave them the name “Phoenikia.”

Typical ingredients of the melomakarona are flour or semolina, sugar, orange zest and/or fresh juice, cognac (or similar beverage), cinnamon, crushed or ground clove and olive oil. During rolling they are often filled with ground walnuts. Immediately after baking, they are immersed for a few seconds in cold 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.

Here’s a great recipe for Melomakarona, the most beloved Greek Christmas cookies:

For the dough

In a mixer add 350 ml water, 350 ml olive oil, 50 grams butter, 50 ml honey and 50ml raki and mix all together for one minute.

Add 15 grams baking soda to 125 ml of orange juice; stir and place in the mixer.

Mix all together for one minute. Then add the zest of an orange, 50 grams of cinnamon, 125 grams of powdered sugar and 400 grams of semolina flour to the mixer. Slowly add 900 grams of pastry flour and mix for five minutes.

Take the dough from the mixer and place it in a bowl. Shape the cookies and place them on a baking sheet.

Bake at 200C (392 F) in a preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Make the Syrup

Add in a pot: 1 liter of water, 1.8 kg of sugar, and 500 gr of honey.

Boil for 3 minutes and let cool.

Soak the baked cookies in the syrup for three minutes.

Place the cookies on a platter and add ground walnuts to the top.

Melomakarona can be stored and preserved at room temperature for up to a month.


The Nostimo team

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