Greek Recipes

Greek and Cypriot recipes

Syrup-Drenched Nut and Spice Cookies with Olive Oil


This is one Peloponnesian version of a traditional Christmas cookie. The region’s telltale ingredient, olive oil, replaces butter in this recipe. Sometimes, Greek cooks will do that—replace butter with oil, that is—to transform a sweet into something permissable for fasting. In the Peloponnesos, though, the use of olive oil is the norm rather than the exception.

Syrup-Drenched Nut and Spice Cookies with Olive Oil


For the syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 medium cinnamon stick
  • One inch-wide strip lemon zest

For the cookies:

  • 3 to 31/2 cups all-purpose flour, as needed
  • 1 scant teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange or lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • Grated zest of 1 orange


  1. Make the syrup: Bring the sugar, honey, and water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Add the cinnamon and lemon zest and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Let cool completely.
  2. For the cookies: Sift together 3 cups of the flour, the baking powder, cinnamon, and cloves in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the olive oil with the sugar until creamy. Stir the baking soda into the citrus juice and add to the oil-andsugar mixture. Add the brandy, walnuts, and grated zest and continue mixing vigorously until combined. Slowly add the flour to the mixture, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon until a stiff dough forms.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly oil 2 large baking sheets. One at a time, break off pieces of dough the size of an unshelled walnut and shape into a small, mounded oblongs. Place 1 inch apart on the baking sheets and bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and submerge in the cooled syrup to soak for a few minutes. Drain them, if desired, on racks. v Olive Oil–Fried Melomakarona from Neapoli: Prepare the recipe as directed. Shape the melomakarona into small, oval mounds, about 1 inch long, and deep-fry in very hot olive oil. Remove when golden with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels for about a minute, then submerge in the same syrup.

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