Baking with olive oil: Greek Christmas cookies with honey and orange

No butter, no eggs. Except for the honey (which could be replaced by a plant-based syrup), you're well on your way to a vegan treat based on the best of seasonal ingredients...

Citizens of Soil olive oil biscuits with honey and orange

 

We're talking bright, zesty citrus. We're talking freshly harvested extra virgin olive oil. We're also talking nuts and sesame, so it's got all the winter hits.  

Introducing Melomakarona (μελομακάρονα), a traditional Greek Christmas cookie. Maria, the woman who owns our olive groves, sent us this recipe and photos around New Year's Eve with the following overview:

"Biscuits made with olive oil. No butter, no eggs. Dipped in a honey, sugar and water syrup. Topped with fresh nuts and sesame."

Citizens of Soil dipping olive oil biscuits

Background:

The 6th of January marks the end of the Christmas season, with celebrations and treats all across the Mediterranean world taking place today—the traditional "12th Day of Christmas".

And while most of us in the UK have already been thrown back into the realities of work and a new busy year, we're trying to ease back in with some seasonal sweets to soften the blow.

Here are the ingredients you'll need:

This makes about 60 pieces.

For the biscuit mixture:

  • 4-6 cups of flour (soft) *Maria mixes measurement styles, but she said less than a kilo, though you'll need some for rolling.
  • 1 cup of semolina (fine)
  • 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup of sunflower oil
  • 1 cup of orange juice
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • Zest from one orange
  • 1 shot of cognac
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

 

For the syrup:

  • 1/2 to 1 cup of honey
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Some orange peel
  • Cloves could be added here

 

To top:

  • 1 espresso cup of ground nuts (your choice, but walnuts and sesame are great here)
  • Cinnamon, to your taste

Here's the method:

  • Put the bicarbonate of soda in the orange juice and mix it until it foams, then add in the honey and cognac. 
  • Mix all of the rest of the mixutre ingredients in a separate bowl, then combine with the orange mix. 
  • Start kneading, shape into biscuits (but don't overwork the dough here!). You're looking for an egg / walnut-size that you form into an oblong shape with your hand.
  • Tip: Don't make them too hard because they won't absorb the syrup.
  • Place on a baking tray on top of parchment paper, then pierce 2-3 times on top about half way through the dough.
  • Bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes.
  • Make the syrup for dipping by mixing all the ingredients in that list *except for the honey* and boiling for 3-4 minutes. Add honey after this point and let cool. 
  • Dip the biscuits in the syrup in batches for about 1 minute (not too long as you don't want them to fall apart / get soggy). Remove with slotted spoon to remove excess syrup.
  • Top with ground nuts and cinnamon as you like.

Results: "The house will smell like Christmas in Crete!!"

—Recipe & 📸  by Maria Amargiotaki, the owner of our single estate EVOO from Crete.

Are you making this? Share with your fellow citizens. Tag us in your photos on Instagram at @CitizensofSoil.

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