Looking for a healthy, delicious Christmas cookie? Try these melomakarona. They use olive oil instead of butter, are flavored with brandy and orange, are sweetened with honey, and are topped with nuts. This is a cookie I don’t mind my kids eating every day.
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- grated rind and juice of 1 large orange
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 6 tbsp superfine (powdered) sugar
- 4 tbsp brandy
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 1/2 cups self-rising flour sifted with a pinch of salt
- 1 cup shelled walnuts, chopped
For the syrup:
- 1 cup clear honey
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- Mix together the baking soda and orange juice. Beat the oil and sugar until blended. Beat in the brandy and 1/2 tsp of the cinnamon, then the orange juice and soda. Using you hand, gradually work the flour and salt into the mixture. As soon as it becomes possible to do so, knead it. Add the orange rind and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is soft and pliable.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Flour your hands and pinch off small pieces of the dough. Shape them into 2 1/2 inch long ovals and place on ungreased baking sheets. Using a fork dipped in water, flatten each cookie a little. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden. Cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to harden.
- Meanwhile, make the syrup. Place the honey, sugar and 2/3 cup water in a small pan. Bring gently to the boil, skim, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Immerse the cold melomakarona about six at a time into the hot syrup and leave them for 1-2 minutes.
- Lift the out with a slotted spoon and place on a platter in a single layer. Sprinkle with the walnuts and remaining cinnamon. You can even drizzle a little extra syrup over them.