by Cat, Nov 2008 (Photo, right, from Gourmed.com (2))
Includes: 1. Reference recipes; 2. Testing of ‘my recipe’
To develop my own Melomakarona recipe, I found 4 recipes online that I could compare. I determined the liquid-to-flour-to-sugar ratio for each recipe, then picked one recipe to use as a starting point (the 4th recipe, from Greek Food.about.com). This recipe had the least amount of flour compared to the liquid and sugar, so that I could add flour as needed to achieve the right texture.
I present the 4 recipes, followed by testing results that achieved the final recipe. Here’s comparison of different recipes, for the cookie dough:
- Where needed, I used Gourmet Sleuth’s gram calculator (6) to convert grams to cups.
- I compared ratios of liquids (oil + juice + brandy), flour (flour + semolina), and sugars (or sugar equivalent if using stevia), based on about 8 total cups flour.
Greek Food (About) recipe (1), makes 24 cookies; I used this recipe for my starting point, but compared to the other recipes, it is a half-recipe. Thus, for the liquid/flour/sugar ratio, I doubled amounts for this recipe only.
Original Liquid : Flour : Sugar ratio of 5:8:2 changed to 5:10:2 after adding more flour
- 1 ½ cups oil
- ¼ cup brandy
- ¾ cup orange juice
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 ¾ cups flour after adjusting (3 cups, originally)
- 1 ¼ cup semolina (1 cup, originally)
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp clove
- ½ tsp baking soda
Gourmed recipe (2) makes 48 cookies;
Liquid : Flour : Sugar ratio: 4:8:1 ⅛
- 2 cups olive oil
- 1 cup brandy
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 ⅛ cup of sugar (225 g)
- grated rind of 1 orange
- 6 cups soft flour (750 g)
- 2 cups semolina (250 g)
- 2 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 Tbsp baking soda
Greek Food recipe (formerly Recipe Zaar) (3), mades 48 cookies
Liquid : Flour : Sugar ratio: 3:8:1
- 1 ½ cups light olive oil
- ½ cup butter, room temp
- 1 cup orange juice or more as needed
- zest of 2 oranges
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups semolina
- 6 cups flour
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¾ tsp clove
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
Santorini recipe (4), makes 48 cookies
Liquid : Flour : Sugar ratio: 4 ½ : 7 : 1 ¼
- 1 ¾ cup olive oil
- ½ cup brandy
- 1 ¼ cup sugar
- 7 cups flour
- 2 cups orange juice (about)
- zest of 3 oranges
- 4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 ½ tsp clove
- ¾ tsp nutmeg
- 1 ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
I started with the Greek Food.about.com recipe (4th recipe above), using the stated ingredient amounts, including flour as follows:
- 2 cups whole wheat,
- 1 cup unbleached white, and
- 1 cup semolina flour
for 4 total cups flour as originally written. Batter would not hold its shape in my hands, needing more flour. I added ½ cup whole wheat, ¼ cup white flour and ¼ cup semolina. Although batter is still soft, it can hold its shape in my hand. Total flour amounts are as follows:
- 2 ½ cups whole wheat,
- 1 ¼ cup unbleached white, and
- 1 ¼ cup semolina flour
For combined total of 5 cups.
Test cookies: tested baking 2 cookies. Baked 20 minutes in my oven; they held their shape, only spreading out slightly. I tasted one (without honey syrup) – nice crumbly texture and lightly spiced, not too sweet; no changes needed.
Final batch: Shaped and baked 44 cookies in all (I made them a bit small, 1.5″ balls), then cooled them about 2 hours on my counter.
Syrup: I prepared the syrup with lemon zest in my electric chicken fryer (325°F to boil 3 minutes, then simmer at 200°F). Soaked cookies, in 3 batches, about 4 minutes per batch. They absorbed the syrup wonderfully.
Nut Garnish: Sprinkled them with finely ground walnuts, but found I didn’t need anywhere near 2 cups worth. About ½ – ⅔ cup would be sufficient. And I have about 3 cups of syrup left over, stored in a quart jar, for a next batch.
Taste: superbly honey-rich and lightly spiced.
Finally had a chance to make another batch, and use up my honey syrup. This time I made as revised from previous test (because the previous batch was such a success): 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour, 1 ¼ cups unbleached white flour and 1 ¼ cups semolina, for total of 5 cups flour, along with spices. Zest of one orange (about 1 ½ tsp), ½ cup orange juice, 1 ½ cups olive oil, and ¼ cup each honey and brandy. Dough seemed right, although definitely soft and oily. It took a lot of working with my hands to get it smooth (mostly to get the semolina to soften).
Made 41 cookies (they are slightly larger than last time). Baked about 17 minutes, then cooled on rack 2 hours before soaking in the syrup. However, I had to turn the cookies over to soak them on the top, because my syrup bath wasn’t deep enough to cover them. soaked about 3 – 4 minutes each side.
Result: Slightly bigger but just as wonderful as last time. Used up almost all of the leftover honey-syrup.
Made a batch with Shelli and her boys, following as written with one exception. She couldn’t find Rapadura Sugar, so bought Coconut Crystals, an unrefined sugar with which I was not familiar. It is darker than Rapadura and had a noticeable molasses flavor in the cookie and syrup that overpowers the orange and spice flavors. I do not recommend coconut crystals for this recipe.
- Greek Food (about) recipe (greekfood.about.com/od/dessertspastriessweets/r/melomakarona.htm)
- Gourmed recipe (gourmed.com/recipes/child-friendly/melomakarona-creek-christmas-olive-oil-cookie; (6) Photo: (gourmed.com/sites/default/files/styles/node-image/public/melomakarona.jpg (Original recipe link no longer valid: gourmet.gr/greek-recipes/1/17/417/Melomakarona.htm)
- Greek Food recipe (greek.food.com/recipe/melomakarona-a-greek-christmas-cookie-76498) (Recipe Zaar original link, recipezaar.com/Melomakarona-A-Greek-Christmas-Cookie-76498 no longer valid)
- Santorini recipe (santorini.com/restaurants/recipe_melomakarona.htm)
- Blue Cornflower photo, (bluecornflower.com/electromatics/electromatic-trays.htm)
- Gourmet Sleuth, gram-to-cup conversion (gourmetsleuth.com/gram_calc.htm)
- gourmed.com/recipes/child-friendly/melomakarona-creek-christmas-olive-oil-cookie (Original link: gourmet.gr/greek-recipes/1/17/417/Melomakarona.htm)
- greek.food.com/recipe/melomakarona-a-greek-christmas-cookie-76498(Original link: recipezaar.com/Melomakarona-A-Greek-Christmas-Cookie-76498)
- Grams to cups converter: gourmetsleuth.com/gram_calc.htm