Melomakarona tis Giagia (Giagia’s honey syrup biscuits)
I love this time of year, so many delicious flavours flying around in the lead up to the big day. We have an amazing array of biscuits here at our place right now, some cooked in-house and others delivered from friends and family. To me, melomakarona are the golden child of Greek biscuits. My mother in law (Giagia) only makes them at Christmas and Easter. When I was dating Pete and first tasted these, I just knew I had to marry into this family! They’re spicy and sweet and the texture, crumbly and moist at the same time, is to die for. I’ve tasted a few different versions of these, but Giagia’s are the best, store bought just don’t compare. The type of flour you use will make a big difference to the overall result (Giagia uses homebrand), as well as things like dissolving the bi-carb in the lemon juice – little details but those which make a difference. This recipe makes around 80 biscuits, depending on how big you make them, so if you don’t need that many, halve the recipe, but you can eat the biscuits without the syrup and because there are no eggs, they will keep for months. The biscuits are really simple to make, soaking in the honey syrup and rolling in walnuts a bit time consuming, but I can’t think of a better way to while away an hour or so.
2 cups corn oil
1 cup olive oil
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup Ouzo
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract
9 cups self raising flour
juice of half a lemon
½ tsp bi-carb soda
2 cups honey
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
½ kg cups finely crushed walnuts with a couple of pinches of ground cinnamon, for coating
In a very large bowl or tub mix the oils and sugar either by hand or using a whisk (don’t use a stand mixer for this dough) until the sugar dissolves – the colour will change to a light almost white colour. Dissolve the bi-carb in the lemon juice. Keep mixing the dough, adding the orange juice, Ouzo, vanilla and bi-carb mixture and mix in well. Add the flour and mix to just combine to form a dough. Rest for half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 170C and line some baking trays with baking paper.
Pick up enough dough to form a medium sized walnut and work with your hands. Make it into whatever shape you like and place on baking tray and press down slightly with the back of a fork. Continue with remaining dough, keeping the biscuits about 2cm apart on the tray. Bake until golden, about 15-20 minutes. You can make the biscuits a few days ahead of when you need them as they need to be completely cooled before they go in the hot syrup, just store them in an airtight container. They will keep for a couple of months.
To make the syrup, bring the honey, sugar and water to the boil, clearing the froth and simmer for 10 minutes or until the syrup changes consistency, becoming syrupy and turning darker yellow in colour. Keep the syrup on the heat and put a few of the cooled biscuits in, letting them soak up the syrup for a minute or so. Take them out with a slotted spoon and place them in the walnut mixture and roll to coat.
Makes about 80 biscuits, depending on size