Melomakarona are Greek christmas cookies, if you know about Greek culture or are Greek you definitely know these. They are not difficult to make, I would just say they are slightly time consuming but with the recipe I'll give you, you will make about 70 melomakarona which trust me is more than enough to last you to Christmas and feed your whole family and lots more!
I used the recipe from young Greek Chef Akis Petretzikis. I used his recipe last year too and I really liked them. The main ingredients are flour, oil, oranged, honey and spices, after baking them they are dipped in a honey based syrup and that's what makes them soft. They don't need to be kept refrigerated, and can last months well stored.
400 gr. orange juice
400 gr. vegetable oil
180 gr. olive oil
50 gr. confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cloves (if you can't find it that's ok, I didn't use it)
2-3 tsps. ground cinnamon (I used 1 and 1 mixed spices as I run out of cinnamon)
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
Zest of two oranges
1 kg flour (normal flour will work well)
200 gr. fine semolina
For the sirup
500 gr. water
800 gr. sugar
150 gr. honey
1 orange cut in half
3 cinnamon sticks
Ground almonds to sprinkle on top
To make the sirup
The sirup needs to be cold and the cookies very hot when you dip them in it. The best solution to this is to make your sirup overnight or 2-3 hours before you start making your cookies.
In a pan over heat add all the sirup ingredients, as soon as the mix starts boiling we remove from the heat and add in the honey. Mix well and leave it to cool well.
To make the cookies
Preheat oven to 190º celsius
We add all the ingredients of Mix 1 in a large bowl and mix well with a metallic whisk. Don't use your mixer as it's not needed at all.
When all is well mixed add the semolina and flour and with your hands mix in very softly. Don't overmix it, the trick is to mix it just enough for all the flour to melt in well.
To make the cookies take little batches of dough and form little oblong shape like small eggs (about 20 gr. each, they all need to be the same weight so they can bake evenly in the oven). Press the tines of a fork in a crosshatch pattern on each cookie.
Place on a parchment paper lined baking tray, evenly separated and bake for 25 minutes or until lightly golden.
As soon as you remove the cookies from the oven, when still very hot, carefully dip your cookies in the cold sirup and count to 4, remove and place in a colander first to remove the excess sirup and then on a platter.
Sprinkle with ground walnuts.
When your first batch comes out, place the next one in your hot oven.
They should be stores in a air tight container or a closed cake platter at room temperature.
For my Greek friends watch Aki making these on the TV programme where he cooks here