January 15th was the 5th annual Greek Dinners Around The World. This social media event was the brainchild of Kerri Douglas, publisher of 9MusesNews.com. Chefs, authors, bloggers, and business owners from around the globe hosted dinners, shared memories and showcased their Greek heritage. For me, the response was greater than ever before as I engaged with interested parties on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I was able to interact with readers who enjoyed Evanthia’s Gift & Waiting for Aegina, and also attract new readers by hosting a contest for a set of books and an Amazon gift card. Congratulations to the winner, Dianne Nickel Casey! I shared photos and little pieces of family history, and of course food photos! With all of my posts on Greek baking over the years, I had no idea that I’d never posted melomakarona. When the photo went live on all my social media accounts, followers began to ask me for the recipe. So as promised, here it is!
1½ pounds unsalted butter, softened
16 ounces vegetable oil
4 oranges, juice and zest
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar 2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
4 teaspoons baking powder
5 pounds flour
Preheat oven to 350º
Mix sugar, cinnamon and clove in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, mix half of the flour and all of the baking powder. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat the egg yolks orange juice and zest together and then add it to the butter mixture. Add the oil and mix on medium speed. Add the flower and baking powder mixture, blending thoroughly. *Slowly, add more flour until a soft dough forms. Work each cookie into a diamond shape. Prick the tops gently with a fork. (This helps the syrup to absorb). Press a clove in the middle of each cookie.
Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350º for 35 minutes. Drench in warm syrup after the cookies have cooled. Sprinkle with finely chopped walnuts.
* Baking is almost always measured out in exact amounts. Cookbooks and chefs have repeatedly stated that while cooking is an art that lends license to experimentation, baking also an art, should be treated as a science. But my mother’s recipes, when it comes to the amounts of flour to be used in some of her recipes, have been vague. A 5 pound bag of flour may not be used up, yet this is what she has either written or showed me. I’ve come to learn that it’s all about experience. Knowing when the dough feels right, and with practice and time, I’ve learned the texture required for achieving cookies as perfect as Mom’s.
32 ounces sugar
24 ounces water
1 cup honey
2 strips orange peel
3 cinnamon sticks
Bring all ingredients to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat. When cookies have cooled, soak in syrup for a minute on each side. Remove and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
The cookies can be frozen only before the syrup is added. Soak in syrup as needed after thawing.