Melomakarona

Walnut-Stuffed Honey Cookies

MADE ALL over Greece for Christmas, these cookies are my favorite sweet. This recipe is a combination of my mother’s and Chryssa Livanos’. Chryssa, the wife of the owner of Molyvos restaurant, comes from the island of Kos. If you can manage to resist these, they will get even better with time.

Ingredients

  • cups light olive oil or a combination of olive oil, canola oil and/or safflower oil
  • cup sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3–4 cups all-purpose flour
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • cups fine semolina
  • ½ cup brandy
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Filling

  • 2 cups finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • cups water

Method

In a large bowl, beat the oil and sugar with an electric mixer until blended. Beat in the orange zest and juice. In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour and the baking powder. Gradually beat the flour mixture into the oil mixture. Beat in the semolina, brandy, lemon zest, cloves and cinnamon.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding 1 cup or more flour as necessary to obtain a smooth, soft, oily dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Make the Filling

In a medium bowl, combine the walnuts and cinnamon.

Take pieces of dough the size of a small egg and roll with your hands into ovals, about 2½ inches long. Push three fingers into the bottom of each cookie to make an opening, and stuff with 1 teaspoon of the filling; reserve the remaining filling. Press the dough to close the opening, slightly flatten each cookie and place the cookies on ungreased baking sheets about 1 inch apart.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until they just start to color.

Meanwhile, Make the Syrup

In a medium saucepan, simmer the sugar, honey and water for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Place the hot cookies in a large dish and pour the syrup over them. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Turn the cookies to moisten the other sides and let stand until the cookies have absorbed all the syrup.

Place the remaining filling on a plate and roll each cookie in it to coat on all sides. Place the cookies in an airtight container, with parchment or waxed paper between each layer. Let stand for at least 1 day before serving. Store for up to 1 month.

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