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Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Cookies)

There are two things that are always on my Christmas to-do list. First, I have to watch Kevin McCallister thwart the “Sticky Bandits” in Home Alone and Home Alone 2. My brothers and I never tire of watching bricks being thrown at the heads of Marv and Harry and other torturous, yet hilarious schemes devised by Kevin. It’s too bad uncontrollable laughter doesn’t burn more calories because the second thing on my list is gorging on Greek treats.

Step into any Greek home at Christmas time, especially my yiayia’s, and you can’t miss the sweet scents of baklava, kourabiedes, and melomakarona baking in the oven. Those desserts are made year-round, but yiayia doubles down on them for Christmas. Especially melomakarona. We call them melos at our house, and Christmas is not the same without them.

Melos are aromatic cookies spiced with orange and cinnamon and spiked with whiskey. What makes melos really shine is the chopped walnut topping and the warm honey syrup the cookies soak in. Like with all cookies, melos are delicious fresh out the oven. I can hardly resist at times. But, these cookies actually get better after the honey has fully absorbed into the cookie dough and has had time to cool. How long should the cookies cool you ask? About as long as it takes to watch Home Alone and Home Alone 2.

If you have a Christmas to do list like I do, add baking melomakarona to it. This recipe makes for about 100 cookies—a perfect treat to gift to friends, family, and neighbors. Tis the season of giving after all.

Καλά Χριστούγεννα / Merry Christmas!


Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Cookies)
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookies
 
Melomakarona are aromatic cookies spiced with orange and cinnamon and spiked with whiskey.
Ingredients
For the dough:
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Crisco
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 ½ cups orange juice
  • 2 shots of whiskey (my yiayia calls them jiggers)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 heaping teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 7 to 8 cups flour
For the syrup:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup Karo syrup
For the topping:
  • 1 cup walnuts, finely ground
Instructions
  1. Begin with the syrup. In a pot, add the sugar, Karo syrup and water and bring to a boil for about 3 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the honey. Keep the syrup on low heat until ready to use.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare the dough.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the vegetable oil and Crisco, and beat together with a hand mixer until smooth. This should take about 10 minutes to get a smooth consistency. This will make for a fluffy cookie. Then, while still mixing, add the sugar, orange juice, whiskey, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla and eggs and mix until well combined.
  4. Gradually fold in as much flour as needed until the dough is soft but not sticky or stiff.
  5. Mold cookie dough into small rounds or ovals. I use my hands though some cooks use a teaspoon. Place on cookie sheet and repeat, keeping the same consistency of the shape size for each one. (This dough makes for about four batches of cookies)
  6. Place the first cookie sheet in the oven and bake the cookies for 17-20 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet or a cooling rack for 5 minutes.
  7. Once your first batch of cookies has cooled, place the cookies (using a slotted spoon) in the syrup and soak them for about 10-20 seconds. Be sure to do these in batches. Remove the cookies and place them on a parchment paper or cooling rack and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Make sure you sprinkle walnuts right after they’ve soaked in honey, so the walnuts stick to the cookie.
  8. Repeat this process until all cookies have been baked, soaked in honey, and dipped in walnuts.
  9. Allow all the cookies to cool completely before serving.
Notes
-While the first batch of cookies is baking, start making and shaping the next batch on another baking sheet.
-Right after you take the first batch of cookies out of the oven, place the second batch in the oven and repeat for all cookie sheets.

MeloPinterest2

20 Comments

  1. Terri Anderson says

    Oh, thank you for getting this blog out before you left! Have fun!

  2. I’m doing a list of holiday treats for the upcoming Christmas time, this is going on the list, thanks for the recipe!

  3. Emily Charles says

    My YiaYia recipe is just a bit different but I am going to try this one this year. Question, a friend from church daughter is now at a moistary in Texas, the mother visited and brought some melomakara back to us. They were so moist and delicious. Do you have any idea how to make them so moist? Also, sometimes Mr YiaYia would put a walnut filling in them.

  4. Emily Charles says

    My YiaYia recipe is just a bit different but I am going to try this one this year. Question, a friend from church daughter is now at a moistary in Texas, the mother visited and brought some melomakara back to us. They were so moist and delicious. Do you have any idea how to make them so moist? Also, sometimes my YiaYia would put a walnut filling in them.

    • Hi Emily! So my Yiayia puts her melos in the honey right away, which soaks up the honey into the dough and I think that makes them moist. I’ve had Melos that were pretty hard, and i think that’s due to many recipes that instruct you to put the honey on top after the cookies have cooled or with a cooled honey mixture. Maybe try that! And make sure to store them in a cool area so they don’t harden. Also, just getting a good sticky dough down is important too. Try these and see what you think! Melos are pretty versatile for sure, it’s all about how you personally like them!

  5. Emily Charles says

    Thanks, my son helps me and we usually let them cool first, that is probably my problem. As for the honey mixture, YiaYia, recipe calls for a cinnamon stick and a orange slice be added while the mix heats up.

  6. Michele says

    Making them for the 1st time right now! Easy recipe and so far they look great! Thank You!

  7. Licia Politis says

    Elena, loved reading your recipe for Melos, can’t wait to try. One question, what type of flour, self raising or plain flour?

    • elenisaltas says

      Thank you so much Licia! So for these cookies I just use regular all purpose flour. I hope you try these and like them 🙂

      • Louiza Barbitsas Poulimenos says

        Can I add 1/2 flour and 1/2semolina?

      • elenisaltas says

        Ooh that would be something new and different to try for sure! Let me know how It goes!

  8. Emily Charles says

    I have my YiaYis’s recipes also and wasn’t quite sure ho mich a jigger is, thanks for the explinnation!

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