Walnuts, Cinnamon and Syrup, Oh My!

Christmas in Greece means Kourabiedes and Melomakarona. These are the traditional cookies of the season. You can usually recognise if someone has been given a kourabiedes to eat from the drifts of powdered (icing) sugar that dusts their clothes. Kourabiedes are almond biscuits covered in (you guessed it) white confctioner’s sugar. They are more common than their more prosaic partner – the melomakarona – honey “macaroon” I think would be the literal translation. For our holiday celebrations, masses of these sweet cinnamon biscuits dipped in a honey syrup and topped with chopped walnuts were produced.

Melomakarona_feature

Melomakarona
Greek Christmas Honey Soaked Cinnamon Cookies with Walnuts.

Syrup:

  • 500g water
  • 800g sugar
  • 150g honey
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 orange

Biscuit:

  • 400g orange juice
  • 400g light oil such as sunflower oil of canola
  • 180g olive oil
  • 50g Confectioner’s (powered) sugar
  • 1/2 tea. ground cloves
  • 3 tea. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tea. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tea. baking soda
  • Zest from two oranges
  • 1 kilo flour
  • 200g fine semolina

Topping:

  • 200g walnuts

First make syrup by combining the water, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Cut the orange in half and add this. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and add the honey. Place in a cool place for at least 2 to 3 hours. The syrup must be cool.

To make cookies: mix all the liquids and then add the flour and other dry ingredients. Mix with a light hand until the flour is just incorporated.

Preheat oven to 190degrees C. Form the cookies into elongated walnut shapes. The cookie will expand in the oven so place apart on a lined baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes.

Melomakarona1

Remove from oven and then, while still hot, put into the syrup for 20 seconds. Work in small batches.

Melomakarona2

Place on cooling rack and sprinkle chopped walnuts while the cookie is still warm.

Melomakarona3

Let cool. Place on a platter and cover with clingfilm until ready to serve.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!

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14 comments

    • Hi Sandra, New Year is the more significant holiday here and I am told that it is then that gifts are exchanged (at least in theory). However, there are some specific Christmas customs – like these biscuits. Believe it or not, they are all gone – thankfully a whole platter went to the office for others to enjoy.

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  1. Funny how little things can tranport you straight to another time! Seeing these greek biscuits took me back to form 3 Home Eco class (app 46 years ago) when I stuck my finger in hot syrup and burned myself. Can’t remember what those were called, but I think it was something like Kourumbiethes (similar to your name, it may have been that!). Have fun enjoying your first Christmas in Athens. Merry Christmas, Cheers Maree.

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    • The syrup burning biscuit sounds like the same one they make for Christmas as, I believe, it is dipped in syrup prior to dusting with confectioner’s sugar. Yes, it is amazing what triggers that move down memory lane.

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  2. Happy New Year! Your recipe is like a gift to me. I remembered making these cookies many years ago and wanted to try them again, but had no idea what they were called and had no luck at all by looking up “Greek cookies”. This is exactly the recipe I wanted.
    I like what you’ve done with your decorations – very pretty and seasonal.

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