Yes, my Christmas Melomakarona are perfect! It is a traditional recipe that has gone from grandma to mom, from mom to me… And you know how it works with childhood’s tastes: they brand mark you for the rest of your life…
As I haven’t managed yet to bake them, I just give you the recipe without my own pictures. I Will add them as soon as I will bake my own Melomakarona later today or tomorrow.
It’s true that they need quite some time from the moment you mix sugar with oil (first step) until you sprinkle walnuts over them (last step). Mixing the ingredients is quick, but baking 5-6 trays one after the other takes hours and yet they are not ready… You need to boil the syrup and soak them in it.
Our family recipe is for some 100 pieces. As I am a busy woman, I normally cut it into half and bake 50 pieces, that would be 2 big trays. If you don’t want to spend a whole day trying to prepare Melomakarona do it as most Greek housewives do: Bake them today, soak them in syrup tomorrow. Just make sure the syrup is hot!
Of course, I could buy ready ones, but nothing compares to the wonderful clouds of smell in the kitchen and nothing compares to the delicious taste of home-made sweets with well checked ingredients and not artificial ones…
Dough: 1/2 liter Sweet Corn Oil – 150 gr White Sugar – 1/2 tablespoon ground Cinnamon, 1/2 tablespoon ground Gloves – 1/2 teaspoon baking Soda – 1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder – Finely grated zest from 1 1/2 Oranges – 100 ml fresh Orange Juice -35-40 ml Cognac or Brandy – 1 kg All Purpose Flour (you might need some more…)
Syrup: 400 gr Honey -200 ml Water – 1 Cinnamon Stick – 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice – 2-3 large pieces of Lemon Zest
OR : 200 gr Sugar, 175 ml Water, 1 tablespoon Honey, Cinnamon Stick, Lemon Zest
Topping: 100 gr chopped Walnuts
Most important is to have the ingredients ready to use. First I measure the sugar, the oil, the cognac and grating of the Orange Zest
Cut the orange and squeeze the juice
I measure the spices, the soda and the baking powder. If you need half a tablespoon look at the trick. You measure a full tablespoon, then “cut” into two…
Mix the oil with the sugar. Add the cinnamon, the gloves, the Orange zest and juice, the baking Powder. For some weird reason we mix the Soda in the Cognac and add it to the mass. Mix well. I use a hand electric mixer on medium speed.
Start adding the flour. The formula is: Flour-mix-flour-mix… until the dough is formed.
By 1 kg Flour you will get a rather soft dough. Work the dough for some minutes with your hands.
To roll cookies, pinch a portion of dough off about the size of a very big walnut. Shape in your palms into a smooth oblong shape, almost like a small flatten egg.
You can soft press the cookies on a grater to get a “a design” or create a design with a fork.
Place the cookies on trays covered with baking sheets, 2 cm apart as they “grow” during baking.
Bake on preheated oven by 180 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes. In my oven they needed 40 minutes. They have to be light brown and firm to the touch. Watch out that they may need less baking time in the second try as the oven will be very hot. They turn more brown when they are soaked in the syrup!
You can also bake two trays at a time in Air by 150 degrees Celsius.
While Melomakarona are been baking, I chop the walnuts in the multi.
Honey Version: Combine honey, water, lemon zest and cinnamon stick in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to boil, stir a bit, reduce heat and let it cook for another 5 minutes.
I place the Melomakarona (5-7 ) in a deep tray or a large saucepan and cover them with syrup. I let them “sit” for 2-3 minutes so they can absorb enough syrup. I turn them once as they need to coat from both sides. Melomakarona are more brown than in the picture below. You can “cook” the Melomakarona” as in the Sugar Version below, but you must add occasionally water as Honey thickens very much the longer it boils.
Sugar Version: Combine sugar, water, honey, lemon zest and cinnamon stick in a saucepan, bring to boil, stir, reduce heat, cook until it starts to thick a bit. Lower the heat. Add the Melomakarona in the syrup and let them cook for 4-5 minutes.
Take them out with a slotted spoon and place them next to each other on a serving plate. Sprinkle the first layer generously with walnuts.
Repeat the procedure until all Melomakarona have been soaked with syrup and sprinkled with walnuts.