Guest Author - Georgina Vanezis
The word ‘melomakarouna’ is a combination of two words, ‘meli’ meaning honey and the word ‘makarouna’ comes from the old Greek word ‘macaroni’ (not to be confused with pasta as we know today), meaning dough.
It’s believed that these biscuits originate from Ancient times. On some Greek islands they are known as ‘phoenikia’ which translates to mean ‘dates’ in Greek. The shape of the biscuit should resemble the shape of a date when made but obviously bigger.
This is a traditional recipe made during Christmas and Easter celebrations. The orange and cinnamon aroma wafts through the house signalling the start of the festivities.
These biscuits are sweet, moist, crumbly and very moreish. They will keep in an airtight tin for about 1 week, although, in my family, these never last that long.
Temperature: 190c/375F/Gas 5
Makes about 25
For the syrup
2 glasses caster sugar
1.5 glasses of water
2 tbsp of honey
1 slice of lemon peel
1 tbsp of lemon juice
For the biscuits
4 glasses of plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
0.5 glass of unsalted melted butter
0.5 glass of sunflower oil
0.5 glass of caster sugar
Grated zest of two oranges
0.5 glass orange juice (I squeeze the oranges used for the zest)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp brandy
For the topping
1 glass of coarsely ground almonds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the syrup
Heat the sugar, honey and water with all other ingredients on low heat until sugar dissolves. Once dissolved, boil for 10 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to completely cool. Remove the lemon peel and cloves before pouring.
For the biscuits
First, lightly grease two baking sheets.
Sieve the flour with baking powder and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, add sugar with grated orange zest and melted butter. Beat hard. Add oil, lemon juice and brandy and once again beat well. Gradually add flour and orange juice, alternately to the mixture until it becomes a light but firm dough.
Using your hand, roll the dough into egg sized ovals and flatten. Place on a baking tin. Using a fork, make ridges along the top of the biscuits.
Bake in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Once out of the oven place onto a large plate, ladle the cool syrup over the hot biscuits and then place on a cooling rack and sprinkle the coarsely ground almonds into the ridges of the biscuits.
Once completely cooled, place them in an airtight tin lined with parchment paper.
To eliminate the need to grease a tray, I use a magic non-stick liner which I cut to size to fit all my baking tray. You can use over and over again.
To make things easier, I place the hot biscuits onto a large tray with a rim and ladle the syrup, this avoids any spillage from the syrup.
I find using a slotted turner (utensil) useful when transferring the biscuits onto the cooling rack.
Do not leave the biscuits immersed in the syrup too long, as they will crumble.
I use almonds for the topping, but you can substitute this for other nut toppings, such as chopped walnuts or pistachios mixed with cinnamon.
If you have a nut allergy, just sprinkle a tiny bit of cinnamon on top.
Remember to use the same size cup for the ingredients