Melomacarouna are a popular Greek cookie often enjoyed at Christmas. They are crumbly spice cookies that have been soaked in warm honey and then sprinkled with finely chopped walnuts. The recipe for this cookie is the perfect example of why we started this project to document family recipes. This is what my mother’s recipe for Melomacarouna looks like:
Thanks to six years of Greek school, I can decipher most of this. There are lots of good things here, actually. Real measurements in “κούπες” (cups), “κουταλιές της σούπας” (tablespoons) and “κουταλιτσες” (teaspoons). You can see she has adjusted the recipe over the years, eliminating eggs and honey from the cookie dough and adding a bit more sugar. Some of the measurements are a little fuzzy, like the lines about “λίγη” (a little) cinnamon and clove, but nothing too difficult to overcome. That is what I thought, until I flipped the notecard over and realized there are no instructions about what to do with the ingredients, and then further realized there is no mention of flour AT ALL. When I asked my Mom how much flour to use she said “όσο παίρνει” (as much as it takes). Umm, okay…obviously we had some work to do here. She still scoffs at our need to measure things, but I think she’s getting used to it. Here’s what I learned (exact measurements are listed in detail in the full recipe):
To start with you will need: flour, vegetable oil, shortening, orange juice, cognac, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and sugar. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl combine the oil, shortening, orange juice, baking soda, sugar and cognac and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. I love this giant stainless steel bowl. Does every Greek mother have a few of these? They always cook in such large quantities that normal sized mixing bowls just don’t cut it.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a little at a time. After adding about 3/4 of the flour mixture you will need to use your hands because the dough will become too thick for the mixer. If you cut this recipe in half you might be able to use a stand mixer. And you will still have a lot of cookies.
The cookies are done when they are a golden amber color. Let the cookies cool completely before moving on to the next step.
Bring honey and water to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat off and skim off any white foam that may have formed on the surface of the honey.
Drop 5 or 6 cookies into the warmed honey. The cookies will float to the top. Turn the cookies over gently to be sure the honey is soaked in on all sides. After about 1 minute, remove the cookies from the honey using a slotted spoon. Repeat until all cookies are drenched in honey.
Sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Let cool before serving.
Melomacarouna (Spice cookies dipped in honey)
Source: Athena Merianos and Toula Costopoulos
Makes about 6 dozen cookies