Melomakarona: Delicious Christmas Cookies from Greece
If you still don’t know Melomakarona, hold tight… you’re about to be introduce to a whole new dimension of taste and flavor lust! Melomakarona are little soft cookies, that are soaked in delicious honey syrup before being served. Small bites of pleasure that literally make your mouth water even by just reading about them.
Melomakarona recipe is one of the oldest and most traditional Greek recipes. For centuries, these cookies have been served as a desert after a meal, a treat for the guests, or just as a treat for yourself.
But you can’t find them anywhere and anytime… No! They are only prepared in winter time, specifically during the Christmas holidays. Melomakarona in fact is one of the two sweet staples of Christmas in Greece.
History of Melomakarona
It’s said that the ancient Greeks celebrated the day of the God Ilios (meaning the God of sun) around the end of December, making melomakarona almost as they are made today, and the tradition has been followed for so many years that these have become one of the most popular Greek winter sweets.
During the years the tradition has changed keeping the same basic ingredients to prepare them. These include local honey, extra virgin olive oil, and almonds (or walnuts in some recipes). You can even find differences in the recipes coming from different areas of the country.
Origin of the Word Melomakarona
Back in Ancient Greece, the word μακαρωνία (makaronia), in medieval Greek, described a dish usually eaten during funerals.
At the same time, μακαρια (makaria) was more ancient work also naming a type of bread usually offered in a funeral. When these little treats started being dipped in honey (μελι), the treat got its present name, melomakarono. And as time went by, it also became a popular dish to be enjoyed during the twelve days of Christmas.
The word makarona made its way to many other nations, evolving and changing together with the dishes they represented, so that today we have macaroni in Italy and macaroon in France and eventually England as well.
Why Melomakarona in Winter… and for Christmas?
However, at present, and since they don’t celebrate the God Ilios anymore, why are melomakarona prepared only during this time of the year?
The answer is simple: some of their main ingredients are honey and olive oil, which both symbolize fertility and good life, and this is the reason why the Greeks make, eat, and treat their loved ones with the delicious sweet, to present their wish for a new year full of happiness, health, and good moments.
Don’t Feel Guilty!
… After all you’re only eating them once a year…
However, keep this in mind: If you are a diet-conscious eater, then you might want to pay some attention to the calorie count.
Click here to lean how to make Kourabiedes.
In general, a medium-sized melomakarono cookie can go from 150 to 200 calories, depending on various factors concerning the ingredients, including the amount of nuts and type of nuts sprinkled on top.
If compared to the other popular Greek Christmas sweet, kourabiedes, they tend to be more healthier because they do not contain butter nor tons of confectionery sugar sprinkled on top. Besides, since they are prepared with olive oil, honey, and walnuts, melomakarona are certainly a much healthier choice.
Melomakarona with Chocolate… The Ultimate Greek Sin!
These magnificent Christmas treats can be eaten on their own, and you fell you can never have enough of them… Until you taste the ones dipped in dark chocolate.
Probably the most delicious Christmas treat you will ever come across, μελομακαρονα με σοκολατα (melomakarona me sokolata), are richer, heavier, and you might end up having no more that 3 or 4. But they embody the best and sweetest part of Christmas and an are a treat not to forget!