Saturday, December 1, 2007

MELOMAKARONA


(a traditional Greek Christmas cookie with walnuts and honey)


Makes 40-50 cookies

These are without a doubt my all-time fave Xmas cookie. There's not a home in Greece that doesn't have a supply of these on hand over the holidays, either homemade or from the bakery. This recipe is from Vefa Alexiadou.

They keep covered room temperature for about a month and taste best after the first few days of making. They also travel well.

FOR THE DOUGH:

1 1/2 cups olive oil

1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup brandy or cognac

2 tsp orange zest (or less)

8 cups all-purpose flour

(approx)2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

FOR THE SYRUP:

2 cups honey

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

GARNISH WITH:

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves


TO PREPARE THE DOUGH:

Beat the first 6 ingredients (olive oil through orange zest) on high with a mixer for 4 minutes. Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl.

Make a well in the flour and add the beaten ingredients.

Slowly blend the liquids into the flour and then knead lightly.

The dough should be soft and oily and will hold a shape.

Form into an oblong shape about 3 inches long and arrange on your cookie sheet lined with wax paper.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 C) until slightly brown, about 30 minutes.


TO PREPARE THE SYRUP:

Meanwhile, boil the honey, sugar, and water for 5 minutes to make the syrup, skimming off the foam as it forms.

Place the hot baked cookies in a shallow pan and pour the syrup over them.

Let them set for an hour or so and then flip them over to soak the other way for another 1/2 hour or so.

Layer the cookies on a platter and sprinkle with the mixed walnuts, cinnamon, and cloves.

You can pile them into a pyramid shape on the platter if you like, sprinkling every layer with the walnuts.

Any leftover soaking syrup may be drizzled over the cookies.

Cover with plastic wrap and store room temperature.

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