Melomakarona (Greek Cookies for Christmas)
This Melomakarona recipe creates a large batch of Honey & Spice Greek Cookies. Flavored with walnut, spices, orange and honey, these amazing cookies stay fresh up to two weeks!
And these Melomakarona (Greek honey, spice and walnut cookies) will always have a special place in my heart.
I originally discovered them while completing my culinary school final practical exam.
Each student was assigned a country and had to prepare a meal from that country. I drew Greece!
For the exam, I made braised octopus, and a chicken with a lemon-egg sauce. But, dessert was the best part.
The dessert for my meal was these cookies. They were absolutely delicious, and I’d been craving them again ever since, but just hadn’t gotten around to making a batch.
I was especially wanting these cookies after my trip to Greece this fall. I had hoped to find a few melomakarona in their home country, and even took a quick glance into every bakery we walked past.
I didn’t actually inquire about the cookies, afraid that I might pronounce them wrong, or they really weren’t as Greek as I thought.
When I got home, I did some quick research and discovered that melomakarona are Greek Christmas cookies.
Whew. Glad I didn’t ask about them in September like some dumb tourist.
About this Greek cookie recipe:
In my opinion, the flavor of melomakarona is very similar to my mini baklava bites, but in cookie form.
Instead of the crispy flakiness of baklava, the same spice and honey flavors are contained in a soft, tender cookie.
The cookie batter is pretty simple, and is flavored with fresh orange juice (juice your own fresh oranges for this, it’s worth it), and some cinnamon and cloves.
The history of melomakarona:
The word melomakarona is thought to be derived from medieval makaria, which is a meal eaten after a funeral or burial.
The recipe has gradually changed over time to include the addition of dipping the cookies in honey.
Etymologically, the word is derived from the Greek word for honey – “meli.”
How to make melomakarona:
Nothing about this recipe is HARD, but I won’t lie: it is time consuming. I like to spread the work out over two days to make it a bit more manageable.
Plus, the dough is easier to work with if it’s refrigerated overnight.
On day one, I made the cookie dough. Then, I chill the dough in the fridge overnight.
On day two, I make and cool the honey syrup. While the syrup is cooling, I make the walnut topping. Then, I start forming and baking the cookies in batches.
As each batch of hot cookies come out of the oven, they are dipped in the honey syrup and then sprinkled with the walnut topping.
Sometimes, it’s helpful to have a second person on hand to help you with sprinkling while you’re doing the cookie dipping, but it’s also completely do-able by yourself.
A quick tip about these Greek cookies:
You might be tempted to taste a cookie as soon as it comes out of the honey syrup, but try to wait if you can. I don’t want you to be disappointed!
The REAL magic is what happens when the cookies sit overnight (or even better, several days), and the syrup really soaks into the cookies.
NOW you can try one and take a virtual trip to Greece.
How to store melomakarona:
When these cookies are finished, it’s important to store them in an airtight container.
I also like to place sheets of parchment paper or wax paper between layers of cookies, to prevent them from sticking together. They can be kept at room temperature.
How long do Greek cookies keep?
Stored properly, these cookies will last up to two weeks. In fact, in my opinion, as I mentioned above, they get BETTER with age.
I think the flavor and texture is best about four to five days after they are made.
I love the fact that, even though these cookies are somewhat time consuming, it’s totally worth it, because I can enjoy them all through the holiday season!
For the Cookie Dough:
- 6-3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting work surface
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1-1/2 cups olive oil
- 1 cup fresh orange juice (from about 4 juice oranges)
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
For the Honey Syrup:
- 3 strips orange peel, about 1-inch wide
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1-1/2 cups honey
- 1-1/2 cups water
For the Walnut Topping:
- 8 ounces walnuts, very finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves
- Make Cookie Dough: In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and cloves.
- In bowl of stand mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.
- Reduce speed to medium-low. Add eggs one at a time, beating until just incorporated after each addition. Add oil, orange juice and orange zest; mix until combined.
- Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture and beat until just combined.
- Turn dough out onto floured work surface and knead 1 minute. Transfer dough to large bowl; cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Meanwhile, make Honey Syrup: In high-sided saute pan or large pot, stir together orange peel, sugar, honey and water. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat and let boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and let syrup cool completely.
- Make the Walnut Topping: In small bowl, stir together walnuts, cinnamon and cloves.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For each cookie, take about 1-1/2 tablespoons dough and roll and press it into an oval shape with your hands. Place on rimmed baking pan; repeat until baking pan is full. Prick tops of cookies with fork 4-5 times so that tine marks are lightly visible. Return remaining dough to refrigerator between batches.
- Transfer cookies to oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Line a second rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. In batches, transfer hot cookies to cooled honey syrup. Let them soak 30 seconds, turning halfway through.
- Using slotted spoon, transfer cookies to parchment-lined pan. Immediately sprinkle with walnut mixture. Repeat with remaining cookie dough, honey syrup and walnut topping.
- When completely cool, transfer cookies to airtight containers, with parchment or wax paper between layers (or put each cookie in a paper cupcake wrapper). Cookies will last up to 2 weeks.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 78 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 199Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 52mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 1gSugar: 15gProtein: 3g