The baking is continuing! (Truth be told I made these about a week ago and distributed them at a friend's Xmas party). Melomakarona, along with kourabiethes are a festive biscuit or cookie made usually around Christmas and New Year. However, I have seen them be prepared for namedays, birthdays and many other celebrations. Whether this is an Australian/Greek thing I'm not sure. The word itself literally translates as a honey macaron. And they have nothing in common with that macaron. I adore them and can quite easily consume many in one go! They are quite a sweet biscuit and this is due to the honey syrup that is poured over them once they come out of the oven. Again, as with most Greek cooking there are a few variations to this biscuit. My mother used to fill them with walnuts and I have seen sesame seeds sprinkled on top along with the traditional walnuts.
The only "untraditional" thing I did was to shape them as stars using a cookie cutter. Like I said before, it's good to play around with food ideas and I think the festive Christmas stars play well with this concept. They can be a little time consuming but they are well worth it. If you're a cinnamon addict and you love a little spice in a biscuit, these will be perfect for you to enjoy. I hope you like my slight variation.
RECIPE FOR MELOMAKARONA
Makes approx. 30 medium sized stars
(The traditional recipe calls for a little brandy. I used muscat because that's what I had on hand. Also, I might have "over processed" the walnuts in the food processor. I recommend you go for a more coarse grind on the walnuts. And be wary that the dough is very soft!).
For the dough:
- 450 grams of plain, sifted flour
- 1 tsp of baking powder
- 150ml of olive oil
- 75 grams of unsalted butter
- 100 grams of caster sugar
- ⅔ cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 heaped tbsp of grated orange zest
- 2 tbsps of brandy or muscat
- Sift the flour and baking powder in a large bowl, making a well in the centre.
- Put the remaining ingredients for the dough into a food processor and blend at a high speed ensuring everything is mixed well.
- Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl with the flour and mix well to combine to form a very soft dough.
- Roll out the dough to about 1-2 cm thick (depending how you like your stars) and proceed to stamp out the stars using a cookie cutter.
- Place the stars on a lined baking tray ( I used a floured spatula) and place in a pre heated 180 deg C oven.
- Bake for about 25-30 mins or until golden in colour.
For the syrup:
- ¾ cup of honey
- 1 cup of caster sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup of water
Make the syrup by adding all the syrup ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil. Stir to ensure the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool slightly.
For the topping:
- 1 cup of walnuts finely chopped
- 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp of ground cloves
Combine the above ingredients together. Set aside to use as the last step
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
- Once you remove the melomakarona out of the oven allow to cool for 5 mins and then using a slotted spoon dip each star into the syrup ensuring it absorbs a little of the syrup.
- Place the stars on a large platter and top with the spiced walnut mixture.