This year I had a mild case of the before Christmas blues but strong doses of Christmas music, Christmas baking, long midnight Christmas decoration evaluation walks in the brisk December air and cinnamon-apple tea quickly remedied that. I am happy to announce that it turned out to be a happy Christmas after all.
Now in the brief post-Christmas pre New Year’s hiatus I am beginning to feel subtle hints of melancholia once again. So I called my mother. She said: “don’t be ridiculous, get out your grandmother’s recipe for Melomakarona and do some baking.” Capital idea I thought so baking I did!
Melomakarona, along with Kourabiedes, are the traditional sweets of Christmas. This is an oil-based macaroon recipe that produces moist cake-like cookies flavored with orange and brandy bathed in sweet honey syrup and topped with chopped walnuts.
Although half way through the holidays there is still plenty of time to prolong the festive spirit. Open your pantry, pull up your sleeves and put on your brightest apron and make my grandmother’s Melomakarona. Once you’re elbow deep in cookie dough and the house smells like orange, cinnamon and cloves you will be ready to face the New Year with optimism and cheer.
Grandma Katina’s Melomakarona
3 cups extra virgin olive oil
½ cup orange juice
a little salt
1 cup sugar
7 cups flour
2 cups semolina
1/2 cup Metaxa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
Ingredients for the syrup:
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
3 cups honey
Lemon and orange slices
A couple Cinnamon sticks
Pre-heat your oven at 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit). In a blender or with a hand held mixer beat the olive oil and sugar. Then add all other liquid ingredients. Once well blended add the dry ingredients leaving the flour last adding it slowly. You may need to knead the dough with your hands which is recommended.
Pinch off a 2 1/2 tsp. portion of dough and form into little oval shaped cookies. Place on a baking sheet 2-inches apart.
Bake for about 20 -25 minutes or until cookies are slightly brown (they get darker once you put them into the syrup).
Prepare the syrup. Put all the ingredients for the syrup into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a low simmer and keep watch over the syrup as it can quickly foam up and spill over.
While cookies are still hot dip them slowly into the syrup with a large spoon. Leave themin the syrup for a couple of seconds (making sure that the syrup covers all sides), then take them out of the syrup and place them on a plate.
Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and enjoy!
Kali Orexi kai Kali Chronia!