Melomarkarona are traditional Greek Christmas Cookies made with olive oil, and flavored with orange, cinnamon, cloves, honey, and topped with walnuts.
For this post, I am following a recipe by Diane Kochilas, adapted from her book, The Country Cooking of Greece.
In an electric mixer with the whisk, beat the olive oil with 1 cup of sugar at medium-high speed until creamy. This may take a while. ( I did not add mastiha or mastic crystals in this recipe.) Be very careful not to splatter everything everywhere like I did, including the beautiful cookbook.)
Dilute the baking soda in the orange juice. Add the orange juice mixture, and water to the olive oil–sugar mixture, and whisk for 30 seconds. Replace the whisk with the paddle attachment, and add the flour, 1 cup at a time, until a soft dough takes shape. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
Shape the dough into oblong mounds, about 2 inches long by 1 inch thick. Using a fork, lightly poke the tops to form a pattern. Place on baking sheets, mound side up, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven, cool slightly in the pan, and transfer to racks to cool completely.
While the melomakarona are cooling, make the syrup by combining all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring the syrup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Dip the melomakarona in the hot syrup and place on another baking tray or platter. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and ground walnuts. (You can also dip them in chocolate, and then sprinkle the walnuts before serving. I am going to try that next time.)
The recipe makes many dozens of cookies. Perfect for holiday cookie swap parties! The melomarkarona also freeze nicely.
I have added a printable version of the recipe below. Here is a link to Chef Diane’s online recipe:
- FOR THE COOKIE DOUGH
- 3 cups extra-virgin Greek olive oil
- 1 cup plus 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp. soda
- ½ cup fresh strained orange juice
- 1 cup water
- 11 cups all-purpose flour
- FOR THE SYRUP
- 2 cups Greek honey
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Strained fresh juice and 1 strip of zest from 1 large lemon
- FOR THE TOPPING
- Ground cinnamon for sprinkling
- 1½ to 2 cups finely ground walnuts for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Lightly oil several baking sheets (or use non-stick silpat sheets)
- In the bowl of an electric mixer outfitted with a whisk, beat the olive oil with 1 cup of sugar at medium-high speed until creamy
- Dilute the baking soda in the orange juice
- Add the orange juice mixture, and water to the olive oil–sugar mixture and whisk for 30 seconds
- Replace the whisk attachment with the paddle attachment
- Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, until a soft, malleable dough takes shape
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes
- Shape the dough into oblong mounds, about 2 inch long and 1 inch thick
- Using the tines of a fork, prick the tops lightly to form a decorative pattern
- Place on the oiled baking sheets, mounded-side up, about 2 inches apart
- Bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned
- Remove from the oven, cool slightly in the pan, and transfer to racks to cool completely
- While the melomakarona are cooling, make the syrup
- Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes
- Dip the melomakarona in the hot syrup and place on a platter
- Sprinkle with the cinnamon and ground walnuts and serve
Kala Christouyenna! Merry Christmas!