These are some of my favourite Greek sweets because of the mix of savoury olive oil and herbaceous thyme honey. We’ve been using one of Aglia Kremezis recipes for these biscuits at Ela the pop-up resturant we've been running . She's one of my favourite authors of Greek recipes and you should have a look at her website if you haven't before. Instead of Greek thyme honey, Tansy heated up some good quality Australian honey and put thyme in it to infuse the other day. So if you can’t get your hands of some thyme honey, I’d recommend doing the same. We've been keeping these in the fridge and they keep really well. Thanks to James Broadway for the pretty picture of them.
1 1/2 cups of olive oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup fine semolina
Grated zest of 2 oranges
2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup brandy
1 cup ground walnuts, almonds or a combination
3 1/2 cups cake four or all-purpose flour, or more as needed
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup honey, preferably Greek, thyme-scented
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups walnuts and almonds, coarsely chopped, to cover the cookies
Preheat the oven to 200 C. Add the oil and sugar in the bowl of a mixer and mix for 2 minutes . Add the semolina, orange zest and juice, salt, cloves and cinnamon and mix for another 3 minutes. In a small bowl add the baking soda and the baking powder to the brandy and add them to the mixer together with the ground nuts. Mix for 2 minutes more.
In a big bowl add the flour and toss with a spatula to sift. Pour in the mixture from the blender and with a large spatula or with your hands draw flour into the wet ingredients to mix, creating a soft, oily dough.
Turn the dough out onto a working surface, adding a little more flour (1-2 tablespoons) if it is too soft and difficult to shape. Knead for 2-3 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and let the dough stand for 20-30 minutes.
Take piece of dough around the size of a golf ball, and shape into ovals. Press a fork on the surface to create ridges that will hold the topping.
Place the cookies about 4 cm apart, on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until they start to color. Let cool on a rack.
Meanwhile, make the syrup: In a medium saucepan, simmer the sugar, honey and water for 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Let cool to just warm.
Drop 6-8 cold cookies at the time in the honey syrup and let them soak about 1 minute or a bit longer, depending how soft or crunchy you like your melomakarona .
Sprinkle a few nuts on a plate or container and make a layer of syrup-drenched cookies. Sprinkle generously with nuts and make more layers, sprinkling each with nuts.
Alternatively you can place the cookies in a large, deep dish or baking pan that holds them snugly, and pour the syrup over them. Let stand for 15 minutes. Flip the cookies to moisten the other side and let them stand until they have absorbed most of the syrup.
Sprinkle with nuts and arrange on plates or airtight containers. Let stand for a day before serving.