Christmas Honey Biscuits: Melomakarona

Packed with Christmas spice and drenched in a sticky syrup, this recipe from Taverna will add a Cypriot twist to your festive baking.

From the book

Taverna: Recipes From a Cypriot Kitchen by
Taverna: Recipes From a Cypriot Kitchen
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Introduction

These are an unusual type of biscuit, in that once they are baked they are drenched in a spiced honey syrup. Despite that, they are not sickly sweet and have been an incredibly popular addition to our kitchen (I seem to have a never-ending supply at the moment). When my Yiayia Martha makes them for us she uses a special ingredient – lager. She swears it makes them a little lighter, so if you want to try her way, substitute the orange juice for something with a little fizz.

Makes 24

Ingredients

60g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
175ml light olive oil
100ml fresh orange juice (or lager, see introduction)
2 tbsp brandy
250g caster sugar
600g flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp fine sea salt
150ml honey
1 stick of cinnamon
75g shelled walnuts, almonds or pistachios
dried rose petals (optional)

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 180.C/gas mark 4. Grease two baking sheets with a little butter then line with greaseproof paper.

Melt the butter in a large pan with the oil. Stir in the orange juice (or lager), brandy and 100g of the sugar. Sift in 500g of the flour, the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ground cinnamon, mixed spice and salt, then beat it all together until smooth. Add a little more flour if the mixture still feels a little greasy, just enough to bring it all together – it shouldn’t be too stiff.

Roll the dough into golf-ball sized pieces, then mould them so they are slightly oval in shape. Place on the greased and lined baking sheets. Bake for around 20–25 minutes, until golden.

Meanwhile make the syrup. Place the honey in a small pan with the remaining 150g of sugar, the stick of cinnamon and 350ml of water and gently bring to the boil over a medium heat. Once it’s boiled, turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for 5–8 minutes, until thickened ever so slightly. Finely chop the nuts ready for the biscuits.

When the biscuits are ready, carefully dip each one into the warm honey syrup, so they are completely coated. Leave them for around 30 seconds on each side, so they soak it up (but not for too long or they’ll fall apart).

Place the soaked biscuits on a tray and immediately sprinkle them with the chopped nuts and rose petals, if using. Leave to cool before serving.

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