Saturday, December 12, 2009

December 13th- Greek Christmas Cookie

Today was a relaxing day. I spent some time working online and then I watched one of my favorite holiday movies "Christmas With The Cranks".

For weeks, stuffed green peppers have been calling to me, so I made a large batch today. Organic green peppers stuffed with rice and local beef. The peppers simmered in homemade San Marzano tomato sauce. I will serve this tonight, we are having company over. After dinner we will head out to see "The Loggers, Holiday Variety Show". Speaking of holiday, my dinner is green and red, how appriocate.

Why is it that anything I make with honey is simply irresistible. It must be the beekeeper and love for honey in me. I cook with honey so much that I post a honey recipe for the Vermont Beekeepers Association members newsletter.

Being a Greek growing up in Chicago meant many days and nights in Greek Town. Once we arrived to this west loop haven, I would sneak over to Athene's Bakery before they closed to pick up a dozen of these fresh made cookies. Melomakarona is a Greek Christmas classic and one dear to my heart. Enjoy!

Makes 30-35 cookies

1 1/2 cups olive oil
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup brandy
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina (cream of wheat or farina)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 orange zested
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 1/2 cups water
2 cups honey
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves

2 cups finely chopped walnuts

Preheat hoven to 350.

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment add all the liquid ingredients. Mix on low. Turn off and add the rest of the cookie ingredients. Mix on medium low for 10 minutes (unlike most cookies, you must knead these cookies).

To shape the cookies, take a fistful of dough and make it into a log. Press the dough gently with your fingers on one side to flatten slightly. The traditional shape the cookies is oval.

Place the cookies onto silpat or parchment lined baking trays, place on the middle rack in the oven and bake until browned. About 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on baking sheets.

While the cookies are in the oven, make the syrup. Place all syrup ingredients in a small pot and heat, until honey and water are incorporated. Turn heat off and let sit. Do not make this to far in advance because you want to dip cooled cookies in warm syrup.

Put about 5 cookies at a time in warm syrup. Using a slotted spoon hold cookies down for 30-45 seconds. Remove from syrup and place on a large platter. Sprinkle generously with walnuts. I like to gently press some of the walnuts on the top of the cookies. Repeat this process until all cookies are finished.

Melomakarona cookies are not refrigerated. Cover with plastic wrap and they will keep for several days or put in tins and they will keep for weeks or months.

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