If there was one Greek cookie that just says Christmas, melomakarona would be it. Although the name is hard to pronounce, melomakarona are not very hard to make—and they’re delicious. Also known as finikia, these are traditionally enjoyed during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday, but you can certainly bake them year-round.
This is an oil-based cookie recipe that produces moist cake-like cookies flavored with orange and brandy, bathed in a sweet honey syrup, and topped with chopped walnuts.
- For the Cookies:
- 1 orange (zested)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch salt
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup brandy
For the Syrup:
- 1 cup honey
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 to 4 whole cloves
- 1- to 2-inch piece lemon rind
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- Garnish: 3/4 cup coarsely ground walnuts
- Garnish: ground cinnamon
Steps to Make It
Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe for melomakarona, it is broken down into workable segments to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.
Make the Cookies
- Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- In a small bowl, using your fingers, combine the orange zest with 3/4 cup sugar, rubbing the grains as if you were playing with sand to release the orange oils into the sugar.
- Using an electric mixer, add the olive oil and vegetable oil to the orange sugar and beat until well mixed.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
- Add the orange juice and brandy to the mixer and mix well.
- Slowly incorporate the flour mixture cup by cup until a dough forms that is not too loose but not quite firm either. It will be dense and wet but not sticky. Once the flour is incorporated fully stop mixing.
- To roll the cookies, pinch a portion of dough off about the size of a walnut. Shape it in your palms into a smooth oblong shape, almost like a small egg. Place it on an ungreased cookie sheet. Continue to shape and roll the cookies until the sheet is filled.
- Press the tines of a large fork in a crosshatch pattern in the center of each cookie. This will flatten them slightly in the center. The cookies should resemble lightly flattened ovals when they go into the oven.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until lightly browned. (The cookies will darken when submerged in the syrup.)
Make the Syrup
- Gather the ingredients.
- While the cookies are baking, prepare the syrup. In a saucepan, combine the honey, 1 cup sugar, water, cinnamon stick, cloves, and lemon rind. Bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove the cinnamon stick, cloves, and lemon rind and stir in lemon juice. Set aside.
Finish the Cookies
- While the cookies are still very warm, carefully float the cookies in the syrup and allow the cookies to absorb syrup on both sides. Using a fork or small spatula, remove the cookie from the syrup and place it on a platter or plate.
- Press ground walnuts lightly into the tops of the cookies (syrup will help it adhere) and sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Do not refrigerate melomakarona as they will harden. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature.