Melomakarona: Greek Christmas Honey Cookies

Melomakarona

While the white pretty kourabiedes are more of a fancy type of cookie, the melomakarono is a dark, decadent, succulent cookie, juicy and dripping honey all over the place. I love eating melomakarona. I actually feel good about it because they really represent what the Greek Mediterranean diet is all about: delicious food made with good-for-you ingredients.

Melomakarona are made with olive oil, honey, orange juice, and walnuts but also flour and sugar. So on the one hand, yes, these sweets have plenty of sugar, on the other hand the olive oil, the honey, the orange zest and the walnuts are all sources of antioxidants. Most importantly the fat from the melomakarono comes exclusively from olive oil. A multitude of studies have shown that olive oil protects from many chronic diseases due to the type of fat (monounsaturated) but also due to its antioxidant content. 

Having said all this, I have to note that yes, melomakarona do have calories, more than the kourabie, but at least you can enjoy them knowing that you are doing a bit of good to your body. Be warned these cookies are rich, and they should be sweet, as with the kourabie, one is enough.

Melomakarono Ice Cream

Melomakarona: Greek Christmas Honey Cookies

Yield: 50 cookies

Melomakarona: Greek Christmas Honey Cookies

Ingredients

    For the cookies
  • 2 cups olive oil (you may want to substitute 1 cup of vegetable oil such as corn oil)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup cognac or brandy
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • Orange zest from 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 7 ½ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • For the syrup
  • 2 cups honey
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • For the topping
  • ½ cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl mix the olive oil, cognac or brandy, orange juice, sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and orange peel.
  3. In another bowl sift flour and mix with the baking powder and baking soda. Add gradually to the olive oil mixture, while stirring with a wooden spoon. Once you have added all the flour, knead the dough and add some more flour if needed.
  4. Roll the dough in little balls about the size of a walnut. Using your fingers press one side of the ball on a grater flattening like a small pancake and then fold over so that the cookie is in a oval shape, with the top having the design of the grater. This is done so that the honey will be better absorbed as opposed to just shaping the cookie in a solid oval shape.
  5. Place the cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 25 minutes. Bake the rest of the cookies.
  6. Once all the cookies are baked, flip them so that the bottom part is facing up, let them cool down.
  7. For the syrup bring to a boil the honey, syrup and water and let it boil for 5 minutes. Remove the foam.
  8. Once the syrup is boiled, while it is hot, pour it over the cookies, making sure all cookies are covered with syrup. Let the cookies sit for at least 2 hours, than turn them over and let them sit some more. * (Some people prefer to do the opposite: Make the syrup and let it cool off, than pour the syrup over hot cookies, instead of letting them cool down. Another way is to place the melomakarona in the pot with the syrup for a few minutes and removing them with a slotted spoon.)
  9. Mix the walnuts with cinnamon and sprinkle over the melomakarona.
  10. Place the melomakarona on a large platter.

Notes

You can also substitute the orange juice and brandy with beer. Instead of using ½ cup brandy and ½ cup orange juice, use 1 cup beer.

Photo Credit: Melomakarona sprinkled with walnuts and Ice Cream Melomakarono by Elena Paravantes

20 comments for “Melomakarona: Greek Christmas Honey Cookies

  1. Dina Toulaki
    December 13, 2012 at 12:57 am

    Just a few words, to wish you a Merry Christmas and all the best for the upcoming New Year!!!!
    Both recipes are easy to make, so, bake and enjoy!!!!!!!

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      December 13, 2012 at 8:38 am

      Happy Holidays to you too Dina!

  2. anna xanthacou
    December 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    The recipe sounds wonderful but a bit too big. Planning on halving the recipe as a starter and see if it passes my mother’s scrutiny. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. Elena Paravantes RD
    December 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Thanks Anna. Yes, these recipes are for the whole season, they would make a big batch and it lasted throughout New Year’s. You can even make smaller bite size servings as well. Good Luck!

  4. PAULINE GOULIONIS
    December 31, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    YOUR VASILOPITA RECIPE IS DELICIOUS! IT WAS EASY TO MAKE AND HAD MANY COMPLIMENTS!

  5. Elena Paravantes RD
    January 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks Pauline! And Happy New Year!

  6. Anonymous
    March 26, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Clicked on kourabiedes in your text, tho the recipe won’t come up – says page not found.

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      March 28, 2014 at 9:52 am

      Thank you for pointing that out. I have corrected it. The link works now.

  7. Anonymous
    June 2, 2014 at 4:29 am

    you have 1 teaspoon of cinnamon then later 2 teaspoons cinnamon is it 3, 2, or 1

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      June 2, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      The ingredients are listed under each part of the cookie. The dough as noted has 1 tsp, the topping as noted has 2 tsp.

  8. Mary Kikikis
    December 15, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Fantastic recipe!!! But, as mentioned by Anonymous, it lists Cinnamon three times: Twice in the Dough (1t and 2t) in addition to (1t) the Topping.

    INGREDIENTS
    2 cups olive oil
    1 cup sugar
    ½ cup cognac or brandy
    ½ cup orange juice
    Orange zest from 1 orange
    –> 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    7 ½ cups flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    –> 2 teaspoon cinnamon

    For the topping
    ½ cup finely chopped walnuts
    –> 1 teaspoon cinnamon

    What are the correct amounts of Cinnamon?

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      December 15, 2014 at 7:49 pm

      Thanks Mary. it has been corrected. It is 1 tsp in the dough and 1-2 tsp in the topping.

  9. Patt
    December 17, 2014 at 3:19 am

    I am not Greek but had a Greek landlady who gave me a recipe for the cookies she made every holiday. My recipe is a little different, having a walnut filled filling (mixed with a little syrup) in a spice laden cookie. My recipe is called Phoenikia. They are so similar to yours, I’m wondering if they are the same or are there really 2 different cookie recipes that are this similar?

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      December 17, 2014 at 7:09 am

      Yes, they are definitely similar and more common in Northern Greece. Some Greeks consider them melomakarona as well with the main difference that in some recipes they fry them or they fill them (as is the case with the recipe you have).

  10. Nancy
    January 8, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    So is this recipe the same as the Finikia that I see at church festivals in America? Also, the recipe calls for olive oil – I presume you mean NOT extra virgin. Would I buy “light” olive oil?

    Also you might find it interesting, this video/article about the Mafia’s involvement in the Italian olive oil industry, from Dateline, and how most of the olive oil we receive in America from Italy is diluted with other oils, and other chemicals added. They call it Agro-Mafia.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-agromafia-food-fraud/

    I get more confused all the time, which olive oil will give me the non diluted, fresh benefits of hearth healthy olive oil. Are they only available in the olive oil boutiques? (I have one a mile away, and a couple more within 3-45 minutes away). Or are there grocery store brands that I can trust?

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-agromafia-food-fraud/

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      January 8, 2016 at 4:57 pm

      Hi Nancy, yes they are very similar. Some areas of Greece call them finikia, others melomakarona. Yes, extra virgin olive is ideal as it has the most health benefits and best flavor. Light olive oil has little value, it is a refined olive oil with little flavor. The original, authentic recipe uses regular olive oil.

      Yes, I am aware of the fraud around olive oil in Italy, thank you for the links. You may find these 2 posts useful with tips on how to choose the best olive oil and how to recognize bad olive oil:
      http://www.olivetomato.com/how-to-buy-good-olive-oil/

      http://www.olivetomato.com/how-to-recognize-good-and-bad-olive-oil/

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