These classic Greek Christmas cookies will fill your house with a warm aroma of spices! My comprehensive guide will break down all the steps, tips and tricks you need to make the perfect Greek honey cookies!
Melomakarona (pronounced mel-o-ma-KA-ro-na) are traditional Christmas cookies that are popular all over Greece. They are thick cookies spiced with clove, nutmeg and cinnamon, and lightly soaked in syrup. If you haven’t made them before, you should definitely give them a try!
What you’ll need:
- Flour: I use sifted, all-purpose flour together with fine semolina flour.
- Oil: I always use a combination of olive oil and light vegetable oil.
- Spices: A combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
- Fruit: Some lemon and orange juice, and some orange zest.
- Alcohol: Cognac or Brandy (optional).
- Sweeteners: I use confectioner’s sugar, granulated sugar, and honey.
- Nuts: Chopped walnuts.
Making melomakarona is pretty straightforward and the best thing is you don’t even need a mixer!
Can I make melomakarona without semolina flour?
Traditionally, melomakarona are made with a combination of all-purpose flour and fine semolina flour, but you could make them with just all-purpose flour. Keep in mind, though, that if you don’t use semolina flour, the texture inside will NOT be the same – it will be a bit crumbly. Semolina flour also helps absorb the syrup better as opposed to cookies made with just all-purpose flour.
Can I omit the alcohol?
Sure! Cognac really goes well with the spices, but you can leave it out and still have great melomakarona!
Why do you use powdered sugar in the dough instead of granulated sugar?
Powdered sugar dissolves a lot better than granulated sugar and results in a more denser cookie consistency, which is perfect for soaking up the syrup. Powdered sugar also contains cornstarch which helps prevent the cookies from spreading too much.
Why do you use a digital scale?
I always use a digital scale to weigh the dough for each cookie BEFORE I bake them. That way they ALL bake evenly at the same time. I think they also look nicer when I put them on a serving platter because they’re all the same size. If you don’t have a digital scale, try and make each piece of dough the same size before baking.
Should they be baked with or without a fan?
An oven with a fan (convection oven) is ideal because the air circulation from the fan creates a uniform temperature inside, baking all the cookies evenly. If your oven doesn’t have a fan, you might want to try rotating the cookie sheets halfway through the baking time, just to make sure all the cookies are evenly baked.
Should the syrup be hot or cold?
Many Greek desserts are made with syrup, which is either used hot or cold, depending on the recipe. In my post Easy Greek Baklava Rolls – Refined Sugar Free , I mention how opinions differ among chefs on whether or not a dessert should be hot when pouring cold syrup on it or the other way around. Some like it hot and some like it cold! I have tried both ways and found that this cookie is sturdier when it’s hot and then dipped into really cold syrup.
How to make melomakarona in 11 simple steps:
STEP 1: MAKE THE SYRUP FIRST
Make the syrup first, allow it to cool, then put it in the refrigerator.
STEP 2: PREHEAT THE OVEN
Preheat the oven to 180 °C / 350 °F.
STEP 3: PREPARE THE TOPPING
Set the honey and the walnuts aside.
STEP 4: MIX THE FLOURS
Mix the all-purpose flour with the fine semolina flour and set aside.
STEP 5: MIX REMAINING INGREDIENTS FOR DOUGH
Whisk together the wet ingredients with the remaining ingredients for the dough.
STEP 6: MIX WET AND DRY INGREDIENTS
Gently add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix by hand. Do not overmix the dough.
STEP 7: REST
Cover the dough and let it rest for about half an hour.
STEP 8: WEIGH EACH PIECE OF DOUGH & SHAPE
Take a piece of dough and weigh it using a digital scale. Each piece should be about 20-25 g / 0.70-88 oz. Make each piece oval and thick. If you don’t have a digital scale, try and make each piece of dough the same size before baking. If you want, you can make a pattern on top using a closed scalloped crimper.
Tip: The pattern helps absorb the syrup and hold the walnuts on top.
STEP 9: BAKE
Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for about 25-30’ until they’re golden brown.
STEP 10: SOAK IN SYRUP
When cookies are done, take 7-10 of them and immediately dunk them into the cold syrup. Let them soak for about 40 seconds, dunking them so that they’re submerged in the syrup. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a serving platter. Repeat with the other cookies.
STEP 11: ADD THE TOPPINGS
Drizzle some honey over the cookies and add the chopped walnuts.
Please let me know how these melomakarona turned out for you in the comments!
I would love to hear from you!
Have a Merry Christmas!
MELOMAKARONA – Greek Christmas Honey Cookies
For the Syrup
- 250ml / 1cup / 8 oz water
- 250 gr / 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 5-6 whole cloves
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 orange, cut in half
- 125 ml / 6.5 oz good quality honey
For the Dough
- 500 g / 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 100 g / 1/2 cup fine semolina flour
- 200 ml / 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 200 ml / 3/4 cup light vegetable oil
- 30 g / 4 1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoons cognac or brandy (optional)
- grated orange zest from 1 orange
For the Topping:
- 120 gr / 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons good quality honey (optional)
- Make the syrup: Wash the orange and cut it in half. Put the orange halves in a large saucepan and add the remaining ingredients for the syrup. Boil for 5 minutes. Then take off the heat and discard the orange halves. Stir in the honey and set aside to cool. Then refrigerate.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350 °F.
- In a bowl, mix the all-purpose flour with the fine semolina flour and set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients for the dough.
- Gently add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and mix by hand. Mix until just combined.
- Cover the dough and let it rest for about half an hour.
- If you have a digital scale, take a piece of dough and weigh it. Each piece should be about 20 - 25 g / 0.70 -0.88 oz. If you don’t have a digital scale, try and make each piece of dough the same size before baking.
- Make each piece oval and thick. If you want, you can make a pattern on top using a closed scalloped crimper.
- Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about an inch apart, and bake for about 25-30’ until they’re golden brown.
- When cookies are done, take 7-10 of them and immediately dunk them into the cold syrup.
Let them soak for about 40 seconds, flipping them over halfway through. Don't soak them too long, though, because they'll fall apart.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a serving platter. Repeat with the other cookies.
- Drizzle some honey over the cookies and top with the chopped walnuts.
- You could make the syrup a day ahead and keep it in the refrigerator.
- Do not overmix the dough; otherwise the cookies will become tough and hard. Mix until just combined. I usually count up to 15 seconds as I gently mix by hand and then stop.
- Don’t put too many cookies in the syrup at the same time, because you won’t have enough room to remove them with the slotted spoon.
- The dough is very greasy, so you might want to wear gloves.
- Save any extra syrup in the fridge for your coffee or tea! Or, if you want more syrup in your melomakarona, just pour some more on the bottom of the plate the next day and let the cookies soak it up.
- These cookies will last for up to 2 weeks as long as they’re covered.