Thursday, 16 October 2014

Melomakarona Greek Christmas cookies

For the melomakarona

1 1/2 cup oil (1 cup olive oil and 1/2 a cup sesame oil)
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 of a cup cognac
1/2 cup beer (blonde pale lager such as bottled Heineken or Mythos)
2 tsps orange zest
1/4 of a cup orange juice
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1kg all-purpose flour (8 cups/ 35 ounces)
For the syrup
650g honey (23 ounces)
420g sugar (15 ounces)
500g water (17.6 ounces)
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
For the garnish
some chopped walnuts
powdered cinnamon (optional)
powdered clove (optional)

 
Instructions

Prepare the dough for the melomakarona. In a mixing bowl add the oil, butter and sugar and mix with an electric mixer at low-medium speed for about 10 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved. (It is very important that the butter is at room temperature.)
In a large bowl, add the flour and the baking powder and blend with a spoon to combine.
Add the mixed oil, butter and sugar (from step 1) in the bowl with the flour and pour in the cognac, beer and orange zest. In a cup add the orange juice and baking soda and blend, until dissolved. Be careful when doing so, because the baking soda will start to foam out of the cup; so blend in a cup placed over the bowl with the rest of the ingredients, so that the foam will end up in the bowl. Pour in the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and start kneading your dough. Knead the dough using your hands until the ingredients combine and the dough is smooth and soft. (Don’t overwork the dough.) Leave the dough to rest for half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 200C; layer the bottom of 2 baking trays with parchment paper and shape the melomakarona. Pinch a portion of dough about the size of a walnut (or bigger, if you prefer) and shape with your palms into a smooth oblong shape, like a small egg; place on the baking tray, push lightly the top with a fork and make some holes on top (not all the way down). Continue with the rest of the dough.
Place the baking trays with the melomakrona in the oven and turn the heat down to 180C. Bake for approx. 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned and cooked through.
A little bit before turning the melomakarona out of the oven, prepare the syrup. Pour in a pot the sugar, honey and water and bring to the boil; boil for 5 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved (do not stir the syrup).
When the melomakarona come out of the oven, float them in the hot syrup, flipping them with a fork to absorb the syrup. Remove the cookies using a slotted spoon, place on a platter and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
Store the melomakarona at room temperature in an airtight container. They will last for all your Christmas Holidays!