From Liz: Yes, this is a family recipe! These are traditional Greek Christmas cookies that we make every year alongside koulourakia (butter cookies) and kourabiedes (almond butter cookies covered in powdered sugar). They’re all great, but melomakarona have always been my favorite because I haven’t come across another cookie like them. I remember sitting at my grandma’s kitchen table when I was little, helping her prepare and then arrange all the cookies on trays she gives away every year. It’s the best part of my holiday season!
Melomakarona (Greek honey cookies)
What You’ll Need:
For the syrup:
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup honey
For the cookies:
2 cups walnuts, divided
2 sticks butter (8 oz), softened
1 cup olive oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
8 oz (1 cup) orange juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 lb (about 7 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
Honey for drizzling
What to do:
For the syrup: In a pot, combine the water and sugar, bring to a boil, and let bubble until sugar dissolves, 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the honey. Set aside to cool.
For the cookies: Roughly chop half the walnuts, then finely chop the remainder, keeping each half separate. Set aside.
In a hand or stand mixer, beat the butter, olive oil, sugar and eggs until fluffy and almost white in color. Add in orange juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and roughly-chopped walnuts. Using a spatula, slowly mix in the flour and baking powder by hand until the dough pulls away from the bowl. Set aside and let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. To shape the cookies, take a portion of dough about the size of a whole walnut and shape with your palms into a smooth oblong shape, similar to a small egg. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, pushing the top lightly with a fork to make some indentations and being mindful to not push all the way down. Bake for until golden, 20-25 minutes.
When the melomakarona come out of the oven, dip them in the cooled syrup, turning them so they’re completely covered and letting them soak for about 10-20 seconds. (Tip: do this in small batches, 2-3 cookies at a time, so you don’t end up making them too syrupy and soggy.) Remove dipped cookies with a slotted spoon and place on a platter. Drizzle some honey on top and sprinkle with the finely chopped walnuts.
A word of advice: My grandma likes to put the melomakarona in cupcake liners since the cookies can get a little sticky! This makes holiday cookie trays easier to assemble, plus patterned ones are so festive. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will be good for the entire holiday season.
P.S. Show us what you’re baking this holiday season! Use the hashtag #FD12DaysOfCookies on Instagram.