This week’s recipe was inspired by a class assignment brought home by my youngest daughter.  Affectionately called “Ellis Island Day”, the children pick a nationality from their family history and write an extensive report on that country, make a float for their country of origin and a choose a photo of one person from their family tree who immigrated from that country to display.  In addition, they may dress as immigrants from that country and bring food from that country to share with the entire grade.  So, of course, I volunteered to bake.  One of my daughters’ favorites is a Greek pastry called Melomakarona, pronounced meh-loh-mah-KAH-roh-nah.  In Greece, this pastry is typically a Christmas cookie.  But here in the States, we make them at all times of the year, for holidays and special occasions.

I volunteered to bake about a month ago and had sort of forgotten about it, until my little one reminded me that Ellis Island Day was this week.  I began to rethink my eagerness to help out yet again.  Really the last thing I wanted to do was spend a whole entire day baking cookies for grade-schoolers.  Really?  12 dozen cookies?  It’s not that the cookies are difficult to make, it’s just that the recipe, like many of my Greek recipes, makes so much food, which takes so much time.  When they decided to cook in the ‘old country’, they really cooked!  These recipes basically feed a whole village.   And, I could have used that time to go to yoga class, clean the house, or even catch up on my reading.

But I didn’t.  As I mixed the dough and shaped each cookie, I thought about my paternal grandmother, who must have made these cookies hundreds of times in her tiny kitchen in her little house in her small village. It got me thinking about how things used to be.  I’m sure she enlisted the help of at least one her four daughters to help with the baking.  While they baked, they would probably share with each other what was going on in their lives and the news of the day, maybe even throw in a little gossip.

So, what started out to be a daunting task of making literally over one hundred cookies each one shaped by hand, baked, then individually dipped in honey syrup, turned out to be quite a meditative day for me.  As I formed each cookie, I was repeating a task done by generations upon generations of Greek women before me.  It forced me to stop my busy life, if only for one day, and allowed me time to think about who I am, where I came from and where I’m headed.  And you know what?  I actually did draw a few conclusions on things that had been racing around in my head for a few weeks now.  So, who knows?  Maybe the goddesses of Mt. Olympus knew I needed this day to think and had this planned for me all along.  Thanks, Yiayia (Γιαγιά)!

Notes:  Please see recipe for Melomakarona on the Featured Recipe page.  These cookies will keep for up to 3 months.  And, the longer they sit, the better they taste!  Do NOT store in the refrigerator!  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.  Of course the goddess decided to dip a few of the pastries in chocolate.  And of course, they are out of this world.  Either way, traditionally plain or artfully dipped half in chocolate, you may be glad that the recipe makes so many cookies, because they disappear as quickly as a winged-footed god.

This entry was posted in Dessert, Family, pastry and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Melomakarona

  1. Roni says:

    well i have to say i did enjoy a new treat i can’t say or spell.. lol I am not a fan of honey on anything.. but i was surprised by the light taste of it in the cookie.. The non chocolate one was a little to sweet for me. Even though i am a big sweet treat lover, i don’t like ones with lots of sugary taste. I enjoyed the cinnamon taste and the texture was nice. But of course i am bias toward anything dipped in dark chocolate. These dipped in chocolate covered up the sugary taste which i likes. I ate it for breakfast with coffee and it was great. So over all i enjoyed them both but like normal the chocolate one prevailed for me.

  2. Shari says:

    These cookies are really really good. I shared with the family and we all loved them.
    I just got done printing out the recipe so I can whip up a batch this weekend :)

  3. cheryl says:

    I have to admit, I had no one to share with this evening. These kind of remind me of a Milano cookie. It is a dense cookie, but absolutely delicious. I think I am leaning toward the one that is not dipped. I like the idea of dipping it into a glass of milk and the cookie getting softer. I am nervous how many I could eat in one sitting. I did not want to stop. Thank you!

  4. Tammie says:

    I tasted the plain and the chocolate dipped. I loved the plain, but my son loved the chocolate dipped! I loved the way they weren’t too sweet, but satisfied my sweet tooth.

  5. Suzann Norris says:

    I tasted both cookies and though they were both delicious, I liked the cookie with the dark chocolate a bit better. I adore Greek pastries and these cookies are up there as one of my favorites. Thanks Kat for another winner!

  6. Lisa McCauley says:

    What a treat! I came home from a particularly hectic day at school, and an hour of grocery shopping and I was famished. I wondered which of my many groceries I should dig into first and then I saw the brown paper bag marked “Lisa” on my kitchen table! I opened it and found the delicious treats inside! Which to eat first? I decided to eat the chocolate one first and found it delicious! I waited a little while before trying the plain one. I have to say I was surprised to find that I liked the plain one better. I love chocolate but I really have to say that I loved the plain cookie – I felt that I could really taste the richness of the cookie better without the chocolate!

    The cookie did remind me of certain christmas cookies, but I couldn’t put my finger on which it reminded me of the most, perhaps a snickerdoodle? I can honestly say though that these cookies did bring me back to my grandmother and her love of baking. When she passed away 11 years ago, I inherited all of her recipes and I diligently try to recreate her recipes each Christmas. She made many hand rolled, varieties similar to this Greek delicacy and these Friday treats not only filled up my tummy but filled my heart with memories of my Grandma! Thanks, Chocolate Muse!!

  7. Jill says:

    could it be I’m part greek? Dave, Emma and myself really enjoyed the cookies! You were right about them getting yummier as time goes by. This is so out of my normal dessert choices….so glad I got to try!!! You are my professional personal baker :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>