Melomakarona (Greek Christmas biscuits)

Melomakarona (Greek Christmas biscuits)
  • Serves icon Makes about 50
  • Time icon Hands-on time 40 min. Oven time 30-35 min

Irini Tzortzoglou shares her recipe for melomakarona, traditional Greek honey biscuits usually made at Christmastime.

Irini says: “I’ve lived in England for over 40 years and have enjoyed Christmas in other European countries, so I’ve grown to love festive spices like ginger, hence its non-traditional appearance in these melomakarona. Ginger, honey and citrus are a marriage made in heaven and I hope you enjoy my version of a much-loved Greek classic.”

The winner of MasterChef 2019, Irini is also the author of Under The Olive Tree: Recipes From My Greek Kitchen.

Nutrition: Per biscuit

Calories
89kcals
Fat
3.7g (0.7g saturated)
Protein
1g
Carbohydrates
12g (5g sugars)
Fibre
0.5g
Salt
0g
Calories
89kcals
Fat
3.7g (0.7g saturated)
Protein
1g
Carbohydrates
12g (5g sugars)
Fibre
0.5g
Salt
0g

Ingredients

  • 475g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 175ml extra-virgin olive oil (see tip)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 25ml brandy
  • Finely grated zest 2 oranges, plus 75ml juice
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 pieces stem ginger, finely chopped
  • 10g sesame seeds, toasted
  • 20g walnuts, toasted and finely chopped

For the syrup

  • 50g caster sugar
  • 100g good-quality honey
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 160°C fan/gas 4. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. In another larger mixing bowl, beat the olive oil and sugar with an electric whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the brandy, orange zest and dry spices.
  2. Pour the orange juice into a glass, stir in the bicarbonate of soda, then tip this into the olive oil mixture. Stir in the stem ginger. Gradually start adding the flour mix to the liquid, at first stirring with a spoon, then using your hands. Mix to the point where you have a soft dough, but try not to overmix as the oil will start separating out.
  3. Line a large baking tray (or 2 smaller ones) with baking paper and put a wire rack next to it. Take about 15g of the dough in your hands, shape into a circle or oval, then roll gently on the rack to create ridges all over (this helps the biscuit absorb the syrup). Put on the tray, then repeat until all the dough is used up – you should get 50-ish biscuits. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden.
  4. Meanwhile, make the syrup. Put a saucepan over a medium heat and add the sugar with 100ml water. Bring to the boil, wait 3 minutes, then add the honey and lemon juice. Skim off any scum that rises to the top, then boil for another few minutes. Remove from the heat.
  5. Leave the melomakarona to cool for 5 minutes, then dip, one by one, into the still-hot syrup with a spoon. Drain on the cooling rack, then arrange on a platter drizzling over any leftover syrup and sprinkling over the sesame seeds and walnuts.

delicious. tips

  1. Irini’s tip: Avoid using an early-harvest olive oil, as its flavour tends to be quite bitter. In Greece, good olive oil for sweet dishes is produced on the island of Lesvos.

Recipe By

Irini Tzortzoglou

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