While I may not have any family from Greece, 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 had Greece, and 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.
Their flavor of melomakarona is very similar to baklava, but in cookie form. The batter is pretty simple, and is flavored with fresh orange juice (juice your own oranges for this, it’s worth it), and some cinnamon and cloves. You bake the cookies, and then it’s best to let them sit, covered, at room temperature overnight before proceeding. At this point, you might be tempted to sneak a cookie to give it a try, but you’d probably be disappointed if you did. The REAL magic is what happens the next day – dunking the cookies in warm honey syrup and sprinkling them with chopped walnuts and more spices. NOW you can try one and take a virtual trip to Greece.
Greek Honey & Spice Cookies (Melomakarona)
For the Cookie Dough:
- 6-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 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 vegetable oil
- 1 cup fresh orange juice (from about 4 juice oranges)
For the Honey Syrup & Walnut Topping:
- 8 ounces walnuts, very finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1-1/2 cups honey
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 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 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until just incorporated after each addition. Add oil and orange juice; mix until combined.
- Gradually add flour mixture to wet ingredients. Turn dough out onto floured work surface and knead 1 minute. Transfer dough to large bowl; cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. For each cookie, take about 1-1/2 tablespoons dough and roll 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.
- Bake cookies 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to cooling racks to cool completely. For best results, transfer cookies to airtight container when cool, and let sit at room temperature overnight before continuing.
- Make Honey Syrup & Walnut Topping: In small bowl, stir together walnuts, cinnamon and cloves.
- In high-sided saute pan or large pot, stir together sugar, honey and water. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat and let boil 1 minute. Reduce heat to low.
- In batches, transfer cookies to honey syrup. Let them soak 1 minute, turning halfway through. Using slotted spoon, transfer cookies to parchment-lined rimmed baking pan. Immediately sprinkle with walnut mixture. Continue with remaining cookies.
- 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.
Adapted from Elly Says Opa.
If you follow me on Instagram, you have may have seen how much fun I’ve been having (and how many delicious cookies I’ve been eating) participating in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap this year! Not only has it been a great way to connect with fellow food bloggers, but the swap benefits Cookies For Kid’s Cancer, a national non-profit organization committed to funding new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer.
After baking my melomakarona and shipping them off, I waited patiently for cookies to arrive in the mail from the bloggers who had my name. I didn’t have to wait for very long, and before I knew it, I was munching on these Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles from Jennifer of Bake or Break. I love peanut butter cookies, and I love snickerdoodles, but never in a million years would I have thought to combine the two. Turns out, it’s a match made in cookie heaven. These cookies disappeared in no time, then I was left waiting for some more cookies in the mail!
Then, one Saturday morning, the mailman cursed my name as he left 7 boxes at once on my doorstep. Ummm, we might have done a bit of Christmas shopping online, plus I got two more cookie shipments! I literally screamed and got all fangirl-like when I saw these Chocolate Truffle Peppermint Crunch Cookies from Elizabeth of SugarHero. I’ve been reading Elizabeth’s blog for several years, and always find myself wishing I could reach through the computer screen to grab one of her creations. How lucky am I that that sort of happened this time? These cookies were amazingly decadent, chocolatey, and chock full of peppermint flavor. I’ll be daydreaming about these cookies for months, years, the rest of my life.
Last but certainly not least, I felt super special that I received cookies from Julie of The Little Kitchen, who is one of the organizers of the swap. I sort of felt like a VIP. Especially because the other organizer, Lindsay of Love & Olive Oil is my blog designer – she’s the reason everything here is so organized and pretty! Anyway, these Nutella Cream Cheese Crinkle Cookies were the perfect balance of chewy and crispy, and sweet but not too sweet. I’ll certainly be bookmarking this recipe for my next cookie-baking adventure.