Honey Cookies (Melomakarona)

Course : Greek
Serves: 60
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1 cup butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup maize or peanut oil
1 medium orange -- grated rind only
6 cups plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup orange juice
---nut filling -- (optional)---
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
2 drops almond essence
---honey syrup---
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 piece cinnamon stick
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 medium lemon rind thin strip
1/4 cup honey

Preparation / Directions:

Oven temperature: 180 C (350F) Beat butter and sugar with orange rind until creamy. Gradually add oil and continue beating until mixture is very light and fluffy. Stir in flour alternately with orange juice. Knead dough lightly with hands for 1 minute. Take a scant tablespoon of dough and flatten it a little. Place a teaspoon of the nut filling in the center and fold dough over to enclose filling. Shape into ovals, pinching ends to a point. Decorate tops with tines of fork or by crimping cookies diagonally across top in four rows with special crimper (see NOTE), or leave them plain. Place on lightly greased baking trays and bake in a moderate oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Dip in boiling syrup, four at a time, turning cookies once. Leave in syrup 10 seconds in all, longer if well-soaked cookies are preferred. Lift out onto a plate and leave until cool. (If no nut filling is used, sprinkle tops with crushed walnuts or toasted sesame seeds and cinnamon. Only those which are to be served should be dipped; store remainder in an airtight container and dip when required. TO MAKE NUT FILLING: Thin honey down with orange juice and blend into remaining ingredients. TO MAKE HONEY SYRUP: Place ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan and stir over heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and boil over moderately high heat for 10 minutes and skim. Let syrup boil on a moderate heat while dipping cookies. Add a little water to syrup when it thickens too much during dipping. NOTE: Icing crimpers will be familiar to many pastry cooks and cake decorators who work with icing. If you don't own a crimper (or have never seen one), have the family handyman cut a piece of tin or aluminum plate about 2.5 x 10 cm (1 x 4 inches). Bend metal in half over a thin rod and cut 6 to 8 evenly spaced saw-like teeth on the narrow edges. Curl the "teeth" slightly inwards. Source: The Greek Cookbook, by Tess Mallos

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