Melomakarona - Phoenikia

Course : Greek
Serves: 40
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1 1/2 cups honey
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 pound finely chopped walnuts
1 1/4 cups sweet butter -- softened
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon -- (or more)
1 1/2 cups light vegetable oil
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 large oranges strained juice only
2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 cups all-purpose flour -- (or more)
2 ounces finely chopped walnuts

Preparation / Directions:

(Author's Note): Ancient and traditional small, spicy baked syruped cakes, these are perfect for a large buffet. The nickname asserts their introduction into Greece by the Phoenicians, but not with these ingredients! Within my lifetime I have seen the oil give way to butter and semolina succumb to flour. Combine the honey, granulated sugar, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Combine the 1 pound finely chopped walnuts with 1/4 cup of the softened butter, 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 5 tablespoons of the syrup. Reserve the remaining syrup and set the filling aside while you prepare the dough. Using an electric mixer, cream the remaining butter (1 cup) with the oil until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar, beating on medium speed. Add the orange juice slowly to the batter, along with the Cognac or brandy, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the other spices. In a small bowl, sift the baking powder, soda, and 2 cups of the flour together. Slowly add the flour mixture to the batter and beat for a few minutes. Continuing to mix by hand, add only enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead. Break off small pieces of the dough and shape with your fingers into oblongs about 2-1/2-inches long and 1-inch high. Flatten between your palms and place 1 teaspoon of the filling mixture in the center. Work the dough around the filling to enclose it completely and press firmly to seal. This procedure sounds difficult, but with many hands it is quite simple. Place on a cookie sheet and continue until all the cakes are shaped. Bake in a moderate oven (350F) for 25 minutes, then cool on a rack. Bring the syrup back to a boil. Dip each cake into the syrup and arrange on a platter. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped walnuts and teaspoon cinnamon, or more if desired. Cool before storing. Note: You may bake and cool melomakarona, store a few days in advance and dip in syrup as described above a day or so before serving. The flavor improves after a few day

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