Greek food is definitely something that gets better with practice!!! This was my 3rd year making “Μελομακάρονα” Greek Christmas cookies and they are better than ever, my husband says “almost just like yiayia makes them”! That is quite the compliment if you’ve ever had a yiayia (Greek for grandmother) cook for you! In my opinion, my mother-in-law still makes them a lot better; although she does have 35 years more experience than me!
Another thing about popular Greek food is that they typically aren’t “30 minutes meals” like we Americans have grown to love! No, these popular meals are only made for special occasions and maybe for a Sunday for a family lunch. Greeks are not eating Pastistio, Moussaka, or Youvetsi every night of the week. Rather, you’re more likely to find a more true Mediterannean Diet cuisine consisting of a vegetable, legume, or fish for the main dish. Some of the most delicious Greek dishes are vegetarian and pretty quick to throw together; some of our favorites are Spanakoryzo, Yemista, and Souvlaki.
Melomakarona, Greek Christmas cookies, are only made once a year for a reason. When Greeks go to the trouble of making them, it is at least half of a day and enough for an entire army. They are prepared a few days before Christmas and offered to guests for the next couple of weeks. The other Christmas cookie is called Kourabiedes, an almond shortbread cookie coated in powder sugar.
A few tips when making these cookies is to either have hot cookies and cold syrup or cold cookies and hot syrup; I prefer hot cookies and cooled syrup. Always make the syrup in advance so it has time to cool and thicken itself. Also, it is important to leave the cookies in the oven to get the golden brown color and dry out enough so they won’t be soggy once dipped in syrup. Leave them soaking in the syrup for sweeter and more syrup laden cookies. Top them with crushed walnuts, drizzled honey, and cinnamon sprinkled for a “WOW” factor!!! And the most important thing to remember is to SHARE! Individually wrap them, store in a cookie tin, and make someone’s day
Melomakarona “Greek Christmas Cookies”
Makes about 70-80 cookies, depending on size Printable Recipe Syrup Recipe: 3 cups white sugar 1-2 sticks of cinnamon whole lemon sliced in half 2-3 whole cloves 2 cups water 1 cup light honey, Greek preferably Add everything to a saucepan, except the honey. Bring to a rolling boil and turn off heat but keep pot on burner for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the honey. Pour into a bowl or set aside to cool well. Cookie Recipe: 1/2 cup olive oil 1/2 cup corn or vegetable oil 1/4 – 1/2 cup coconut oil (I like this addition, but can substitute for olive or corn oil) 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice zest of 1 orange (remember to zest before juicing) 1/4 cognac, preferably Metaxa (can leave out completely or substitute for any cognac or brandy of choice) 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour 2 tsp. baking soda 1/2 T. cinnamon 1-2 tsp. cloves, nutmeg, or ginger (substitute any sweet spice you wish) 1/2 tsp. salt Topping: 1-2 cups crushed walnuts 1/2 cup honey to drizzle, optional cinnamon Preheat oven to 350, line several cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together all the flour and spices, set aside. Whisk well the oil and sugar together, until lightened in color and well mixed. Change from a whisk to a beater. Add baking soda and zest to orange juice, slowly add as the mixer incorporates well. Slowly add in cognac. By a 1/2 – 1 cup measure slowly add the dry mix to the wet mix, continue until everything is mixed. The cookie batter should be soft, pliable but not sticky. Let batter rest 15 minutes while you pour syrup into an open dish convenient for dipping cookies. Use a tablespoon to scoop a small portion of the batter out, lightly mold into a loose circle/oval and roll along side of either a zest/cheese grater or the squares of a ridged cookie drying tray. The textured surface will help soak in the syrup and hold the walnuts onto of the cookie so this step is important. Lay cookies 1-2 inches apart and bake for 20-25 minutes or until deeply golden brown. Scoop and mold the next cookie tray while you wait for them to cook. Once removed from the oven, add 3-5 cookies into the cool syrup at a time for 5-20 seconds.based on how much syrup you want them to soak up – I prefer a good 8-10 seconds. Place soaked cookies in a baking tray, individual papers, or parchment lines tins. Continue until all cookies are prepared. Share and enjoy with your loved ones!!!
Sorry this recipe is coming after a wonderful Christmas celebration, but better late than never right?! And please know that I miss posting new recipes and it is one of my New Year’s resolutions to upload a new recipe or revised recipe at least once a week.
Thank you so much for stopping by and I truly hope that you will come back! Have a blessed New Year 2013 and live life with love, joy, passion, and glory for your Creator!Χρόνια Πολλά Ζακλίν -aka- Στυλιανή