Greek christmas cookies
By: Eleni Saltas
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.
- For the syrup:
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup honey
- 1⁄4 cup corn syrup
- For the dough:
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 1⁄2 cups sugar
- 1 1⁄2 cups orange juice
- 2 shots of whiskey
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 heaping teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 7 to 8 cups flour
- For the topping:
- 2 cups walnuts, finely ground
Step by Step Instructions
Begin with the syrup. In a pot, add the sugar 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. Preheat the oven to 350° F and prepare the dough.
In a large bowl, combine the vegetable oil and vegetable shortening and beat together with a hand mixer until smooth. This should take about 10 minutes to get a smooth consistency. Then, while still mixing, add the sugar, orange juice, whiskey, cinnamon, honey, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla and eggs and mix until well combined. Gradually fold in as much flour as needed until the dough is soft but not sticky.
Mold cookie dough into small rounds or ovals. Place each on cookie sheet and repeat, keeping the same consistency of the shape size for each one.
Place the first cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 17-20 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Let the cookies cool on parchment paper or a cooling rack for 5 minutes.
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 back on the parchment paper or cooling rack and sprinkle with chopped walnuts immediately while the cookies are still warm and sticky with syrup.
Repeat this process until all cookies have been baked, soaked in the honey syrup, and dipped in walnuts. Allow all the cookies to cool completely before serving.
The cookies can also be stored in airtight containers for up to two weeks if kept in a cool place. You can also freeze the cookies and serve later.
Oh, thank you for getting this blog out before you left! Have fun!
Haha of course, couldnt Lee you go the weekend without It! Let me know if you try it and what you think!
I’m doing a list of holiday treats for the upcoming Christmas time, this is going on the list, thanks for the recipe!
Ah yes, so happy to hear that! Please let me know what you think of them! Enjoy 🙂
What can vegetable shortening be replaced with ?
Hey there, you can use margarine or butter as a replacement. Shortening does have more fat content so there will be a slight change of texture, but I think the butter would be great!
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.
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!
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.
Haha… when you see 7-8 cups of flour in a recipe then you know it’s a Greek one!
Your melomakarona look great!!!
Haha right?? The dough always has to feel a certain way it’s never the same, especially when my Yiayia is baking! And thanks so much 🤗
I was actually referring to the large quantities of the ingredients since most Greek recipes make a lot of batches! But what you say is also very true (and sometimes more accurate)!!! 🙂 🙂
Oh haha gotcha! Yes very true. Lots of flour for big batches! This made 100 cookies!!🙈
HaHa. That’s the truth!!
Making them for the 1st time right now! Easy recipe and so far they look great! Thank You!
Ah yay so happy to hear that! Let me know how they turn out and what you think of the taste 🙂 enjoy!
Elena, loved reading your recipe for Melos, can’t wait to try. One question, what type of flour, self raising or plain flour?
Thank you so much Licia! So for these cookies I just use regular all purpose flour. I hope you try these and like them 🙂
Can I add 1/2 flour and 1/2semolina?
Ooh that would be something new and different to try for sure! Let me know how It goes!
I have my YiaYis’s recipes also and wasn’t quite sure ho mich a jigger is, thanks for the explinnation!