Melomakarona are traditional Greek Cookies drenched in a honey syrup. This cookie recipe is traditionally made every Christmas in Greek homes.
These cookies are quintessentially Greek. From the walnut and honey flavourings which are pretty much on the front stage of Greek desserts (think baklava) to the use of olive oil instead of butter. I absolutely love melomakarona! These cookies are everything good about Greek cuisine. While far from healthy, I feel good knowing that the ingredients do have many health benefits in and of themselves. At least there’s that thought to comfort me as I stuff myself with honey drenched cookies! Ha!
Traditionally, melomakarona almost always have chopped walnuts in them and even a little sprinkle of crushed walnuts on top as well. As I can no longer eat walnuts (boo food sensitivities), I currently make them without walnuts or I sub in a different nut like almonds instead. With or without nuts, they are absolutely delicious! So good that I end up making a double batch so that I have plenty of leftovers for me to enjoy! They can be frozen (before you dip them in syrup) and also keep for weeks in an airtight container.
Making the Cookies
Making the cookies is pretty easy and done in stages. The first stage is mixing the dough and forming your cookies. I use a stand mixer to make my dough and then using my hands, I roll out the dough into balls slightly larger than a golf ball. I then press down on them to flatten them a bit. You can do this with your hands. I sometimes press down on the back of a dish that has a textured design but that isn’t necessary.
Next the cookies are baked for about 20-25 minutes. As the recipe makes 36 cookies, I have to do this in batches.
Dipping the Melomakarona!
I then move on to the next stage of dipping them in a warm honey syrup until they become drenched in it. I warm honey and water in a small saucepan and dip them a few at time for a minute or so. Be sure to flip the cookies if they do not submerge completely in the honey. I always test one out to ensure the honey has soaked through the cookie. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. Ha! If it hasn’t adjust the time.
Finally, I sprinkle the cookies while the honey is still warm. Traditionally they are sprinkled with crushed walnuts but you can also sub in other nuts or a mixture of icing sugar and cinnamon. I used a combination of crushed almond slivers and the sugar/cinnamon mixture this time around.
The recipe isn’t very difficult, but a bit time consuming. That’s mostly because it makes 36 cookies and so you have to cook them in batches (unless you have a large enough oven and baking trays that you can get it all done at once-in which case I am very jealous!) It also takes some time to dip them in the honey mixture.
Don’t be deterred though. The steps may take some time, but it is relatively easy and SO WORTH IT! If you don’t plan on needing all the cookies all at once, I recommend storing them in an airtight container without the syrup and then completing the honey dipping portion in small batches as needed.
Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Honey Cookies)
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup vegetable oil or grape seed oil
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons cognac
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon clove powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 1/4 cups flour
- 1/2 cup walnuts chopped (optional)
For the syrup
- 1 1/2 cups honey
- 1/2 cup water
- walnuts crushed
- mixture of equal parts cinnamon and icing sugar (if prefer nut free version)
- Preheat oven to 350F and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Add the oils and sugar to a stand mixer and mix for 1 minute. Add the orange juice, cognac, honey, cinnamon, clove powder, baking soda, and baking powder and continue to blend.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the flour slowly. Finally, add the walnuts and mix until combined.
- Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and let it rest for 15 minutes at room temperature.
- Grease your palms slightly with oil and scoop out a small portion of dough. I use slightly more than a golf ball sized portion for my cookies. Roll it into a ball between your palms. Press down slightly and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I press mine down onto the back of a plate with a textured design on it but this is not necessary. I just like the design.
- Bake the first 2 trays in the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes or until the cookies begin to brown slightly. Bake the last tray in the oven while you begin the next step with the first batch.
- Warm the honey and water in a saucepan on low heat until thin and syrupy. While still on low heat, begin to dip your cookies in the syrup for a minute (be sure to flip so that they are well coated). Test one out to ensure the honey has soaked into the cookie. If it hasn’t keep the cookies in for a bit longer.
- Set on a cooling rack with a baking sheet underneath so the excess honey can drip off. Sprinkle with crushed walnuts or with a mixture of cinnamon and icing sugar, if desired.