Greek Melomakarona

1 stick unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups unrefined or regular granulated cane sugar, divided
2 eggs
3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup brandy
1 1/2 cups olive oil
6 1/2 cups spelt flour (may substitute all-purpose flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
Zest of 1 orange
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
3/8 teaspoon ground cloves, divided
1/2 pound shelled walnuts, coarsely ground

Preheat oven to 350 F.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter with 1 cup of the sugar. Add the eggs 1 at a time and beat until just incorporated. Add the orange juice, brandy and oil, mixing until smooth and combined.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, orange zest, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of the cloves; mix well. Slowly add flour mixture to wet ingredients. Add more flour if necessary to make a workable dough. Knead dough 7 or 8 times on a floured surface. Roll cookies into walnut-sized balls then shape into ovals.

Using zester side of a box grater, lightly press a cookie down onto holes to form a grid pattern on top of cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes on an ungreased baking sheet.

While cookies are baking, combine remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar, the honey with 1 1/2 cups water in a pot. Bring syrup to a boil. After it has boiled a minute or 2 and thickened slightly, skim foam off top. Turn burner to low just to keep syrup warm.

Mix the walnuts with remaining cinnamon and cloves; set aside.

When cookies are completely cool, dunk them into warm syrup and leave them for about a minute before removing with a slotted spatula and placing sticky-sides up on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Top dipped cookies with walnut mixture.

Store in an airtight container. Makes about 36 cookies.

— Recipe courtesy of Ashland Food Co-op.


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