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Melomakarona are aromatic, moist and cakey Greek cookies traditionally made for Christmas. One bite and you’ll understand why these treats tend to perform quick disappearing acts. Made with just a bit of lemon zest, cinnamon, oil, sugar and orange honey syrup, then topped with chopped walnuts, melomakarona cookies are unquestioningly special.
You may be thinking up new ways to extend the holidays once you’ve tried these cookies. But no worries, you need no excuses whatsoever for making a plate full of this delicious, addictive Greek dessert any time of year. Honest.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Wash oranges and lemon in cold water and pat dry. Use smallest setting on cheese grater to grate the orange peels (turning orange to just scrape the surface), until you have 2 teaspoons of orange zest. Set zest aside. Then cut the oranges in half and juice them for 6 tablespoons fresh orange juice.
Cut lemon in half and then slice one ¼ inch piece off of one of the halves. Remove the fruit and pulp. Set rind aside for later. (Use remaining lemon in fresh water or tea, or spritz over a salad or other meal.)
In a large bowl, whisk together the following dry ingredients:
In a separate large mixing bowl, combine sugar with orange zest. Rub sugar and orange zest together between your fingers to release the rind oils. Pour in olive and canola oils and beat ingredients with electric mixer (or by hand) until they are combined.
Add orange juice and brandy. Continue mixing until thoroughly combined. Transfer the liquid mixture into your large bowl with dry ingredients. Mix by hand just until blended.
Transfer dough to working a comfortable surface and press gently with your hands to form a dough layer that is roughly 1/3 – 1/2 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut stars, ovals or other desired shape. (Alternatively, you can use your hands to shape ½ inch thick ovals about the size of walnuts.)
Place shaped cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Gently press a fork into the tops of your cookies, forming a shallow crosshatch pattern on the top center of each cookie and flattening them slightly.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Make syrup while cookies are baking.
Heat water in a medium saucepan over high.
Bring to a boil and then immediately reduce heat and allow to simmer uncovered until sauce begins to thicken (about 10 – 15 minutes). Turn off heat. Remove cinnamon stick, cloves and lemon rind.
Stir in lemon juice and set syrup aside.
When cookies are done baking, dunk them in the syrup for about 10 – 30 seconds each, and then move them to a serving tray. Drizzle remaining syrup over cookies and sprinkle walnuts and cinnamon over top.
Serve warm. Store uneaten cookies at room temperature in airtight container.