Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Honey Cookies)

Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Honey Cookies)

Making these sweet little Greek honey cookies always makes me realize that it’s Christmas time! Melomakarona are one of the most popular treats throughout Greece during the Christmas Holidays and their intense homely smell makes every house smell like Christmas. These sweet little Greek honey cookies (melomakarona) are super quick to bake, so much fun to make and highly addictive! My traditional Greek melomakarona recipe makes 60 of these delicious festive Greek Christmas cookies, plenty for everyone to try. Serve them over a hot cup of coffee and you will have a match made in heaven!

Melomakarona recipe – A delicious Greek Christmas tradition

As with most holidays in Greece, Greek Christmas also revolves around food! This means that these are these festive days of the year to make all these traditional Greek recipes, like kourabiedes, vasilopita, diples, Christopsomo and of course these amazing sweet little honey cookies, the traditional Greek melomakarona! Melomakarona are my absolute favourite Greek Christmas cookies. And how couldn’t they be? These cookies are incredibly soft, moist, flavorsome and soaked in a delicious honey syrup. Once baked in the oven, the intense aromas of the sweet spices permeates the house and brings back childhood memories. For a more traditional touch, garnish the melomakarona cookies with roughly chopped walnuts and just a pinch of cinnamon and clove.

What does “melomakarono” mean?

Melomakarona (μελομακάρονα) are traditional Greek Christmas cookies, that are served during Christmas time throughout Greece. The word “melomakarona” is a combination of the two words “meli”, which means honey and “makarona”. “Makarona” comes from the ancient word “makaria” and means blessed. In some regions “melomakarona” are also called “finikia”. The traditional recipe for melomakarona and finikia is pretty much the same, but some times finikia are deep fried instead of baked.

Melomakarona

How to make the best Greek Christmas honey cookies / Melomakarona?

This melomakarona recipe was first published on November 2013, but I decided to update it, so that you can see all the preparation photos and find out all the little secrets to guaranty the perfect result. Making traditional Greek Melomakarona is not really difficult, but you have to pay attention to the little details.

First of all, it is really important not to overwork the dough for the melomakarona, because this will cause the oil to separate from the mixture. Just knead lightly with your hands or a spoon until the flour has incorporated and the dough is really soft. If you are planning to bake the melomakrona the following day, it is not a very good idea to make the dough in advance and store on the fridge. This will also cause the oil to separate from the mixture. Make the dough for the melomakarona when you have enough time to bake them. Be careful not to add any more flour than this melomakarona recipe calls for, as this will make the cookies tough. It is also important to use a combination of semolina and flour, to make the melomakarona crispier and crumblier.

Melomakarona dough

To syrup the melomakarona the syrup must be cold and the melomakarona hot. This will help the cookies to absorb the syrup and become moist on the inside. So, start by making the syrup first and then the dough. If you are in a hurry you can place the syrup in the refrigerator to cool down, while preparing the dough for the melomakarona.

So go ahead, try out this traditional Greek melomakarona recipe and let the smell of freshly baked cookies, orange and cinnamon remind you it’s Christmas! Enjoy!

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Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Honey Cookies)

Melomakarona recipe (Greek Christmas Honey Cookies)

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  • Author: Eli K. Giannopoulos
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 50 pieces 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Greek

Description

A traditional melomakarona recipe! These Greek Christmas honey cookies (melomakarona) are super quick to bake, so much fun to make and highly addictive!


Scale

Ingredients

For the melomakarona

  • 150g thin semolina (5.3 ounces)
  • 500g flour (soft) (17.6 ounces)
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 100g orange juice (3.5 ounces)
  • 3 tbsps cognac
  • 100g sugar (3.5 ounces)
  • 1 flat tbsp powdered cinnamon
  • 1/3 tsp nutmeg (powder)
  • 1/3 tsp clove (powder)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbsp baking soda
  • 90g water (3.2 ounces)
  • 125g olive oil (4.4 ounces)
  • 125g vegetable oil (4.4 ounces)
  • 50g honey (1.8 ounces)
  • zest of 2 oranges

For the syrup

  • 300g water (10 ounces)
  • 600g sugar (20 ounces)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 orange, cut in half
  • 180g honey (7 ounces)

To garnish

  • 200g chopped walnuts (7 ounces)
  • powdered cinnamon (optional)
  • powdered clove (optional)


Instructions

  1. To prepare this melomakarona recipe start by making the syrup first. In a pot add all the ingredients for the syrup, except the honey and bring to the boil. Boil for 3-4 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and remove from the stove. Stir in the honey and set aside to cool completely.
  2. Prepare the dough for the melomakarona. In a bowl add the semolina, flour and baking powder and blend with a whisk to combine.
  3. In another large bowl add the orange juice, the cognac, the sugar and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, vanilla). At the end add the baking soda and whisk immediately the ingredients for 5-10 seconds, until the ingredients combine and the baking soda dissolves and starts to foam. Pour in the bowl the water, the oil, the orange zest and honey and whisk to combine.
  4. Now it’s time to combine the two mixtures. Add the mixed flour, semolina and baking powder (from step 2) in the bowl with the rest of the ingredients from step 3 and start kneading the dough for the melomakarona. Knead the dough for the melomakarona using your hands, until the ingredients combine and the dough is smooth and soft. Careful not to overwork the dough as they will become tough.
  5. Preheat the oven at 180C. Layer the bottom of 2 baking trays with parchment paper and start shaping the melomakarona. Pinch a portion of dough about the size of a walnut/ 30g (or bigger, if you prefer) and shape with your palms into a smooth oblong shape, like a small egg. Place on the baking tray, push lightly the top with a fork and make some holes on top (not all the way down). Continue with the rest of the dough.
  6. Place the baking trays with the melomakarona in the oven and bake for approx. 18 minutes, until the melomakarona are lightly browned and cooked through.
  7. When the melomakarona come out of the oven, place them in the cold syrup, flipping them with a slotted spoon to absorb the syrup for approx. 10-20 seconds, depending on how syrupy you like them. (When adding syrup to the melomakarona it’s best do so in 2-3 batches). Remove the cookies using a slotted spoon, place on a platter and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
  8. Store the melomakarona at room temperature in an airtight container. They will last for all your Christmas Holidays!


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 piece
  • Calories: 195kcal
  • Sugar: 20.4g
  • Sodium: 39.4mg
  • Fat: 7.6g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.6g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 4.5g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 31.2g
  • Fiber: 0.9g
  • Protein: 2.1g
  • Cholesterol: 0m

Keywords: Melomakarona, Greek Christmas cookies, Greek honey cookies, Finikia

Recipe image gallery:

 
 

18 Comments

  1. Soulli Kleanthous says:

    How many does this make????

  2. Recipe didn’t work out for me. Dough too dry to work with, and did follow all instructions step by step…:(

    • Hi Rita, oh no, let me see what could have happened:

      1. Possibly the flour was sifted and then weighed? Should weigh the flour before sifting
      2. Used a mixer by any chance or kneaded the dough for too long? If yes, gluten has developed and made the dough hard / almost bread like.
      3. Did you use bread flour by any chance? Should be using normal, plain flour
      4. Possibly the cup was too small? It should be 250ml for a cup and if the dough feels a bit dry try adding a little extra oil mixture….

    • The dough needs more liquids. I use 1 and1/4 cups of orange juice and 1/2 cup of brandy in 3 pounds of flour. Yield 93 pieces.

  3. Demetria Makarios says:

    Hi Eli Katerina – If I made these in the next few days 8th Dec would them keep until christmas or am I better to make them closer to the time?

    • Thats what I always do every year, make them about 2 weeks before Christmas and they are just fine for the whole holiday season. The problem is that they are never enough and they usually get eaten up pretty quickly!

      Love

      Eli

    • No it’s okay, they last a long time, also I’ve put them in the freezer before adding the honey, actually taste better ,when ready remove from freezer make syrup, make sure syrup is hot and dip each cookie in syrup

  4. For the butter do you use salted or unsalted butter ?

  5. I am having a hard time using the exact amount as is in the recipe because when I convert to cups it doesn’t give me the right amount…. Is there an easier way?

    • Carol Ann Speight says:

      In my 50 years + of baking I have found that a good kitchen scale is worth its value in gold for certain recipes! (I noted that your post was made in April 2015 BUT also noted that no one had responded!)

  6. This recipe is perfect, I used Kalymnian thyme honey and Iliada kalamata extra vergin olive oil… They were the best that ever came out of my oven. Instead of cognac I used grand marnier liqeur and I had fresh oranges, the ingredients really made the difference I think!

  7. Great recipe except I was left over with lots of syrup and 20 mins was a little too long for me. I think I will make half the amount of syrup next time. Left over syrup is my incentive to make another batch 🙂

  8. I made these on Saturday for our Greek Orthodox Easter, I doubled the recipe and made 65 good sized biscuits.
    These biscuits caused a stir in my family, first my daughter ate 3 before we ate, my brother in law said that they were the BEST melomakarona he has ever had and his mother is a fabulous baker, I ended up breaking two up over really good vanilla ice cream and mixing it through which was heavenly to eat.
    I did change the recipe slightly, I used olive oil, I didn’t use vegetable oil as most traditional Greek recipes never call for vegetable oil and next time I will use less than the 250ml stated. But in saying that, I thank you for sharing a beautiful recipe that will now continue down the generations to come!

  9. Barbara Hadjiapostolou says:

    I tried them and indeed very nice tasting. Dud not use olive oil because our variety in South Africa is not at all like the Greek ones in Greece and boy do I miss Greek honey! The best tasting honey around. Pity one cannot import Greek honey!

  10. Thank you! I found your veg moussaka recipe, loved it…now I see your Melamakarona look exactly like my yaya’s, tears in my eyes, I couldn’t find her recipe for so long. I’m so grateful 💕

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