Melomakarona are Greek honey cookies that are soft with a pleasant orange cinnamon scent. These cookies are soaked in a spiced honey syrup and topped with crushed walnuts. You can make them ahead of time and enjoy them for the holidays.
Nuts in desserts? Sign me up! Whether we're making baklava, Persian walnuts filled pastries (qottab) or Italian pistachio cookies, nuts always make desserts better! These Greek Christmas honey cookies, known as melomakarona are going to be your favorite. They are dairy free and egg free, meaning you can make them ahead of time and gift them to your family and friends.
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About Melomakarona Cookies
Also known as finika, Melomakarona are classic Greek cookies made specifically for Christmas. These Greek honey cookies are soaked in a spiced and zesty honey syrup, making them soft and moist. They're usually topped with chopped walnuts, but some variations use pistachios or rose petals as well.
A small history lesson: The word melomakarona, pronounced me-lo-ma-kah-rona, is made of two words: meli which means honey in Greek and makarona, coming from the word makaria which means blessed.
Ingredients For Melomakarona
- Honey: You need honey for both the syrup and the cookies.
- Sugar: Use granulated sugar to make the syrup and the cookie dough.
- Spices: These cookies are flavored with warm spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Use whole spices cinnamon stick and whole cloves to make the syrup and ground for the cookies.
- Orange: Use the zest in the syrup and the juice in the cookies.
- Flour: All purpose flour works best in this recipe.
- Oil: Use a combination of olive oil and neutral flavor oil such as grapeseed or avocado oil.
How To Make Melomakarona
- Prepare the syrup: Place the water, honey, sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves and orange zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the syrup cool completely.
- Mix the dry ingredients: In a bowl mix the flour, semolina, baking powder and spices.
- Mix the wet ingredients: Mix the olive oil, grapeseed oil, orange juice, sugar and honey in a large bowl until all is well combined.
- Combine: Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix using a wooden spoon and later on your hands. Make sure not to overwork the dough otherwise it'll start releasing the oil, making the cookies dry.
- Shape: Grab about 1 ½ cookie dough and shape it into an oval ball. Gently press it on a cookie rack so it has indentations. Place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and repeat with the remaining cookie dough.
- Bake: Bake the cookies for 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. The cookies will be slightly brown at the bottom. Take them out of the oven and immediately soak them in the cool syrup. You can let the cookies stay in the syrup for up to 20 seconds. Take the cookies out of the syrup using a fork or a slotted spoon, arrange them on a platter and top with crushed walnuts.
Tips To Make Greek Christmas Honey Cookies
- Don't overwork the dough: Mix the dough just until it comes together and there are no lumps of flour. Since the dough contains oil, it'll become dry and would lose its taste if it's overworked.
- Hot cookie, cold syrup: Just like baklava, these need be soaked in syrup right out of the oven when they're piping hot. If both the syrup and the cookies are hot, the cookies will fall apart and if both are cold, the cookies won't absorb the syrup.
- The pattern: You can use a fork to pierce each cookie a couple of times or you can press the cookies gently on a cookie rack. This is for the cookies to absorb the syrup better and to hold the walnuts.
This melomakarona recipe makes about 40 cookies so you probably will have leftovers. Store them in an airtight container and keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Since these Greek honey cookies don't use eggs or dairy, there is no need to refrigerate them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! You can prepare the cookies up to 4 days in advance and serve them when you're ready. However, keep in mind that you should bake the cookies the same day you make the dough. Since the dough has oil, it should not be refrigerated prior to baking.
Yes, you can simply poke the top of the cookies a few times using a fork. This is simply for the cookies to absorb the syrup better. Once they're plated and topped with walnuts the pattern isn't even visible.
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Melomakarona Recipe (Greek Honey Cookies)
Orange Honey Syrup:
- 1 ¼ cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 orange
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup fine semolina
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ cup orange juice plus 2 tablespoons
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoon honey
- ⅔ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup neutral flavored oil such as avocado oil or grapeseed oil
- ½ cup crushed walnuts
- To make the syrup, place the water, sugar, honey, cinnamon stick and cloves in a sauce pan. Zest the orange using a zester or a microplane and add it to the mixture. Place the saucepan over medium high heat and bring it to a boil. Then lower the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the syrup cool completely.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a bowl mix the flour with semolina, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Set it aside.
- In a large bowl whisk the orange juice with the granulated sugar, honey, olive oil and grapeseed oil.
- Add the flour mixture to the orange juice and honey mixture and combine using a wooden spoon and later your hands. Mix just enough for the ingredients to incorporate and make sure not to overwork the dough.
- Grab about 1 ½ tablespoon of the cookie dough and shape it into an oval ball. Then press it gently on a cookie rack and place it on the baking sheet. If you don't have a cookie rack, place the cookie dough on the baking sheet and pierce it a couple of times with a fork. This is for the cookies to absorb the syrup better later. Repeat the steps with the remaining cookie dough.
- Bake the cookies for 25 minutes until they're lightly brown at the bottom.
- Take the cookies out of the oven and immediately soak them in the cool syrup. You can let the cookies soak for up to 20 seconds.
- Take the cookies out of the syrup, arrange them on a platter and top with crushed walnuts.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container and keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Since these cookies don't contain eggs or dairy, there's no need to refrigerate them.
- It's very important that the cookies are hot and the syrup is cool when you soak them. If the syrup is hot, the cookies will fall apart.