Greek Christmas Cookies

Melomakarona – Greek Christmas Honey Cookies

Melomakarona are traditional Greek Christmas honey cookies that are mildly spiced and dipped in a thick honey syrup. These classic Greek cookies will fill your house with a warm aroma of spices!  

MELOMAKARONA – Greek Christmas 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! I’ll show you all the steps and give you all the tips and tricks you need to make the perfect Greek honey cookies!

What you’ll need:

  • Flour: I use sifted, all-purpose flour together with fine semolina flour. 
  • Oil: I always use light vegetable oil, but you could use a very light olive oil, if you prefer.
  • 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 powdered sugar, granulated sugar, and honey.
  • Nuts: Chopped walnuts.

Making melomakarona is pretty straightforward and simple. You don’t even need a mixer!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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 in these cookies, 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.

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.

MELOMAKARONA – Greek Christmas Honey Cookies

How to make melomakarona in 10 simple steps:

STEP 1: MAKE THE SYRUP FIRST & PREP THE BAKING SHEETS

Make the syrup first, allow it to cool, then put it in the refrigerator. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

STEP 2: MIX THE FLOURS

Mix the all-purpose flour with the fine semolina flour and set aside.

STEP 3: MIX REMAINING INGREDIENTS FOR DOUGH

Whisk together the wet ingredients with the remaining ingredients for the dough.

STEP 4: MIX WET AND DRY INGREDIENTS

Gently add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix by hand until JUST combined. Do not overmix the dough.

STEP 5: REST

Cover the dough and let it rest for about half an hour.

STEP 6: PREHEAT THE OVEN 

Preheat the oven to 375 ° F (190 ° C).

STEP 7: WEIGH EACH PIECE OF DOUGH & SHAPE

Take a piece of dough and weigh it using a digital scale. Each piece should be about 0.9 oz (25 g). 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 fork or a closed scalloped crimper.

Tip: The pattern helps absorb the syrup and hold the walnuts on top.

STEP 8: BAKE

Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for about 20-35 minutes until they’re golden brown.

STEP 9: SOAK IN SYRUP

When cookies are done, take 5-6 of them and immediately dunk them into the cold syrup. Let them soak for about 40 seconds ta minute, 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 10: ADD THE TOPPINGS

Drizzle some honey over the cookies and add the chopped walnuts.

These cookies will last for up to 2 weeks at room temperature as long as they’re covered.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

  • I usually 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 and let it rest.
  • 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.
  • You can make these cookies a bit softer or crunchier. If you prefer softer cookies, just bake them for about 20-25 minutes. For crunchier cookies, bake them for 30-35 minutes. I actually do both because some people in my family prefer the softer ones, while others prefer the crunchier ones!
  • 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 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. Personally, I always use all the syrup!

MORE GREEK RECIPES!

Please let me know how these melomakarona turn out for you in the comments below!

I would love to hear from you!

Have a Merry Christmas!

Melomakarona Greek Christmas Honey Cookies

MELOMAKARONA – Greek Christmas Honey Cookies

Melomakarona are traditional Greek Christmas honey cookies that are mildly spiced and dipped in a thick honey syrup. These classic Greek cookies will fill your house with a warm aroma of spices! 
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Greek
Keyword: christmas, festive, traditional Greek, Greek Christmas Honey Cookies, melomakarona, honey
Servings: 45 cookies
Author: Voula

Ingredients

For the Syrup

  • 1 cup water (250 ml / 8 oz)
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar (250 g)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 - 6 whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 orange, cut in half
  • 6.5 oz good quality honey (125 ml)

For the Dough

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (500 g)
  • ½ cup fine semolina flour (100 g)
  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (200 ml)
  • ¾ cup light vegetable oil (200 ml)
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar (30 g)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground clove
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons cognac or brandy (optional)
  • grated orange zest from 1 large orange (about 1 ½ tablespoons)

For the Topping

  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts (120 g)
  • 2 tablespoons good quality honey (optional)

Instructions

  • Make the syrup: Cut the orange in half and put it in a saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients for the syrup, except for the honey. Boil for 5 minutes. Then take off the heat and discard the orange halves and spices. Stir in the honey and set aside to cool. Then refrigerate.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • 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. Don't overmix.
  • Cover the dough and let it rest for about half an hour.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 ° F (190 ° C).  
  • If you have a digital scale, take a piece of dough and weigh it. Each piece should be about 0.9 oz (25 g ). 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 fork or a closed scalloped crimper.
  • Place the cookies on the baking sheets, about 1-2 inches apart. I fit about 20 on a tray.
  • Bake for about 20-25’ for softer cookies, or 30 - 35' for crunchier cookies, until they’re golden brown.
  • When cookies are done, take 5-6 of them and immediately dunk them into the cold syrup. Let them soak for about 40 seconds to a minute, 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 (if using) and top with the chopped walnuts.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • 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. 
  • 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 at room temperature as long as they’re covered.
©Pastry Wishes

 

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