Mary Mermigas' Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Cookies)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup of sunflower oil
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup of brandy
- 1/2 tablespoon orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 to 7-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- Grated walnuts for garnish
For the Syrup:
- 2 cups of water
- 2 cups of sugar
- 1 cup of honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 lemon slices
- 3 orange slices
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 325 F with a convection oven, or 350 F with a conventional oven.
Step 2: Put all the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda) in a bowl and mix until blended with a whisk.
Step 3: Cream together butter and oil until fluffy
Step 4: Add the sugar and continue beating until sugar is well combined.
Step 5: Add the eggs, orange juice, brandy, and orange zest. Continue beating until everything is incorporated.
Step 6: Gradually add flour mixture. Add additional flour so that the dough will not be too soft or sticky.
Step 7: To shape the cookies, take a fistful of dough and make it into a log. Press the dough gently with your fingers on one side to flatten slightly. The shape of the cookies can be rounded, oval, or a small log shape.
Step 8: Place the cookies well spaced on a greased cookie sheet, place on the middle rack in the oven and bake until browned (about 20 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool on baking racks.
Step 9: To make the syrup: Put the water, honey, sugar, cinnamon stick, and orange and lemon slices in a wide pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat down to low. Remove cinnamon stick and orange and lemon slices.
Step 10: Put in cookies (as many as will fit on the bottom) into the hot syrup and use a spatula to hold them down for about 45 seconds to a minute, depending on how syrupy you want them to be.
Step 11: Once the cookies have been soaked, remove them with a slotted spoon, letting some of the syrup drip, place on a large serving plate in layers, sprinkling each layer liberally with the finely chopped walnuts.
Do not refrigerate the melomakarona. Cover them with plastic wrap or store in tins so they don't dry out.