Melamakarona – Greek Christmas Cookies
My favourite cookies … I began making these cookies with my Yaya (Greek grandmother) and Mom when I was a little girl. Although they are traditionally dairy-free, they are not gluten-free. This year I am taking a leap of faith and making them with a gluten-free, cake & pastry flour … will post results – good or bad! These cookies can be made up to two weeks in advance, stored in the refrigerator, in a tin, with wax/parchment paper between the layers. This recipe makes lots of cookies – up to 6 dozen – and they disappear quickly, which is why I make two batches. One batch two weeks before the 24th and one the week before! If possible make these with a friend/family member … They do take a while to prepare and company always helps the time go by … 🙂
6 Cups Cake & Pastry Flour
1 Cup Crushed Walnuts (crushed to a flour consistency)
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
2 Tsp. Baking Powder
1 Grated Orange Rind
4 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon (or more)
3/4 Tsp. Ground Clove (NO more)
Pinch of Salt … 1/8 Tsp. (or less)
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
1 1/2 to 2 Cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3/4 Cup Warm (Room Temperature) Orange Juice
1/3 Cup Brandy
3/4 Cup Sugar (Berry Sugar)
Mix “liquid” ingredients in a large bowl. Slowly begin adding dry ingredients until a soft but not sticky dough is formed. Form cookies by rolling a small amount in your hand and shaping into a short, plump, sausage looking lump. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. When all the cookies are rolled, delicately pinch the ends and squeeze gently toward the middle of the cookie. Now you will have a somewhat diamond shaped cookie. With the fork tines gently flatten the tops of all the cookies – only the top, not the whole cookie. Bake for 15 minutes in a 350° oven.
Set out wax paper (or parchment paper) sheets on the table. Crush 1 to 2 cups of walnuts and sprinkle over the sheets of paper.
1 Cup of Fragrant Honey
1/2 Cup of Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
1/2 Cup Maple Syrup (my Canadian addition)
2 Tablespoons Brandy
1 1/2 Cups of Water
1 Whole Navel Orange, small one – sliced
1 Whole Lemon – sliced
4 Sticks of Cinnamon
10 Whole Cloves
4 Whole Nutmeg
Bring the liquids (including syrups), to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Add in the orange/lemon slices and whole spices. Cover and simmer on low heat for at least 1/2 an hour and no more than 1 hour. Must be quite warm for cookie dipping! When cookies are ready to be dipped, with a slotted spoon remove the fruits & whole spices.
Crush 1 1/2 cups of Fresh Walnuts in a food processor. Sprinkle liberally over several sheets of wax paper. I spread the wax paper, overlapping each piece, over a 4 x 4 foot (1.1 x 1.1 metre), square section of my kitchen table.
Once cookies are removed from the oven and have cooled for 2 – 3 minutes, dip them in the syrup ,
roll them over, remove and place on walnut covered sheets of wax paper. Sprinkle more crushed walnuts over all. When cooled arrange on a serving dish with more crushed walnuts under and atop the cookies (use the walnuts left on the wax paper). Save remaining walnuts and syrup (in separate containers) to use on other desserts – Apple Crisp, Honey Cake, Walnut Cake or as a topping for Sweet Potato Pie!
That’s it … Enjoy!
ps. after all this work, when clean up is done … have a brandy with tea and a cookie. You deserve it! 🙂