Greek honey cookies (Melomakarona)
Hands down my favourite greek cookies when done the way I like them. I like them slightly crumbly and moist. Some like them on the drier side but not me. I like to taste the moistness and the flavours of the syrup that they soak in when you take them out of the oven. They get infused by the most wonderful smelling honey syrup. With notes of citrus, clove and cinnamon. To die for!! The whole kitchen and house is filled with that aroma when you make them and you really can’t wait to get them out of the oven!
These are often made around this time of year for the holidays, but I crave them all the time!! These cookies, karithopita (Greek walnut syrup cake) and revani (Greek semolina cake with orange syrup) are my favourite Greek desserts or treats. They have a commonality if you didn’t notice. They are all moist and delicious and I look forward to sharing all those recipes with you soon!! Getting back to these cookies or as I like to more accurately call them biscuits.
While I lived in Canada I lived in a very Greek area of Toronto. This was purely coincidental, but it definitely had its perks. Did I feel like picking up a frappe on the go? Easy. I knew the best place to pick one up and exactly where to park to get it! Wanted a quick gyro or late night gyro? Messini’s of course! And when I craved melomakarona it was no sweat. I lived in walking distance to at least 3 bakeries that made them fresh daily!! (They even made them chocolate covered- a little to much sweetness for me but my husband loved them and the chocolate covered baklava they would make) Easy access and instant fill of a craving. Also handy for taking a box of treats to someone’s house when invited. There was never an excuse to go anywhere invited empty handed. What more could I ask for? Of course when I went home to my parents place I would also get my fix.
Now that I live in Trinidad I don’t have that luxury. So it was time to make them myself. With a few recommended recipes and some tips from mom I was ready. These biscuits are actually simple to make but the absolute most important key to getting the best textured biscuit is not to overwork the dough. They have to be light and airy enough to soak up all that syrup. Other wise they will be too hard and dense. The flavour will still be good but the texture will be more cookie like.
If you get a chance to try this recipe, you will not be disappointed. I adapted it from
a recipe my mom gave me and one from Akis Petretzikis. One thing that is commonly called for in many of the recipes I saw for these is mixing a combo of regular all purpose flour and semolina flour. Semolina flour is not always easy to find here and when you do it’s at a cost too ridiculous for me to think of paying for a small amount of it. I substituted spelt flour and it achieved the right texture.
The recipe was given to me in grams and so many that I looked up were also in grams so that gave me another excuse to get a small kitchen scale. I will try to convert the measurements to cups and ml as close as I possibly can. My mom never used a scale and they always turned out perfect. I believe there is a little leeway for the measurements.
This recipe makes a huge amount of biscuits just a caution as you see 8 cups of flour and over 500 ml of oil, so I usually half the recipe for a smaller batch. Some recipes also call for different oils but I use just olive oil. You can also add a shot of cognac to the dough like the kourabiethes recipe but I chose not too because I find the recipe is perfect the way it is without introducing that into it. Just my preference though.
Some use an all sugar syrup but I think that combining sugar and honey in the recipe is important. You really taste a difference in the syrup. I used local Trinidadian honey (which is basically the same price as gold but worth every penny — I can cheap out on the semolina but not this honey) and it was divine!
Hope you enjoy making and eating these as much as I do!! Even if you live close to a Greek bakery (totally jealous of you) it’s still fun to make them on your own.
- 500 ml water
- 800 g brown sugar/Demerara or granulated — approx 4 cups
- 150 g honey - approx just under a half cup
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1⁄2 tsp of whole cloves
- 1 orange, cut in half
Flours in one bowl
- 1 kilo all-purpose flour- approx 8 cups
- 200 g semolina if you have or spelt flour — approx one cup or just over a cup
Wet ingredients and spices and flavourings in another bowl
- 400 ml orange juice
- 580ml olive oil
- 50 g granulated sugar- approx 1⁄4 cup
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2-3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- grated zest of 2 oranges
- More honey
- 1 cup of walnuts finely chopped
Make the syrup first up to a day before so that it can be completely cool by the time you finish baking the biscuits
In a small sauce pan bring all the ingredients for the syrup to boil excluding the honey. Once the sugar is boiled(after a few minutes of boiling) remove pan from heat and stir in the honey. Set aside to cool
Preheat oven to 350
Combine all ingredients separately into two bowls -flours in one bowl and the rest of the ingredients whisked well in another bowl
Now combine ingredients from both bowls and mix gently by hand until everything is combined no longer than 10- 20 seconds. DO NOT OVER WORK DOUGH
Use a cookie scoop to scoop out dough for each cookie and shape into and oval and place on a lined baking sheet
Bake for about 25 minutes or until dark golden brown
Remove from oven and immediately dunk the cookies into the syrup — a few at a time for 10 seconds and remove with a slotted spoon and place on wire rack to cool
Drizzle with more honey and chopped walnuts