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Chef Maria Loi’s Melomakarona – Traditional Greek Holiday Honey Cookies

Ingredients

Makes approximately 150 small cookies

Ingredients - Cookie Dough:

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon of baking powder 1 cup water
2 cups olive oil
1 fl oz raw honey (organic preferred)
½ teaspoon of ground cloves
1½ teaspoons of ground cinnamon
½ cup of confectioner’s sugar
1 cup ground walnuts
2 tablespoons of orange zest
Pinch of salt
2 cups of fine semolina flour
4-4¼ cups AP flour

Optional:
1/3 cup of brandy

Ingredients - Garnish:
Ground walnuts

Ingredients - Syrup:
4 cups water
3 cups organic granulated sugar
2 cups of honey
2 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
peel of one orange

Directions

  Method:
1. Preheat oven to 340°F.

2. Add all the syrup ingredients to a medium saucepan, stir to combine, and cook over high heat until the sugar dissolves and it comes to a boil. Remove from the heat, allow to cool, reserve.

3. Add the orange juice to a large mixing bowl, then add the baking soda to make sure that it’s active; once the baking soda has activated, add the baking powder, water, olive oil, and honey to the mixing bowl, and mix to fully combine.

4. Add the cloves, cinnamon, sugar, ground walnuts, orange zest, a pinch of salt, and mix to fully combine in the same bowl; sift in the semolina flour and AP flour to the same bowl.

5. If adding brandy, add it now, and lightly knead to combine into a soft dough;

a. If skipping the brandy in the recipe, just lightly knead ingredients to combine into a soft dough.

6. Portion out the dough using a tablespoon, and form them into cookies. Bake at 340o F for about 16-18 minutes.

Optional: If you feel so inclined before baking, lightly press one of the sides of the cookie on the side of a box grater with the small holes, or a mesh strainer, to create a design on the surface.

7. Remove the Melomakarona from the oven; while hot, dip a few of the cookies at a time in the reserved syrup for approximately 5-6 minutes - allow them to absorb the syrup, then remove with a slotted spoon onto a pastry rack.

8. Place cookies on a platter, sprinkle with ground walnuts for garnish, serve and enjoy!

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