The word melomakarona is a compound word meaning honey (meli) and blessed honouring of the dead (makaria).
They are a traditional egg-shaped dessert prepared during the Christmas holiday season, however the roots of melomakarona are steeped in Greece’s pagan history.
In antiquity, a piece of bread in the shape of modern melomakarona were offered after the funeral much like kolyva are offered by modern Greek Christians today.
There are testimonies that suggest that melomakarona (then known as makaria) were shared after the Epitaph speech by Pericles at Keramikos in 430 BC to commemorate the first dead of the Peloponnesian war.
In Keramikos – an area of Athens, Greece, located to the northwest of the Acropolis – the women would gather to mourn the dead of war and they would prepare makaria to share in the memory of their loved ones.
1 cup olive oil or canola oil
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup ouzo
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 cup of fine semolina
2 and 1/2 cups of plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon clove powder
1. Sift baking powder with flour
2. Beat sugar and oil, add all ingredients and mixing to make a dough
3. Shape by taking a small fist full of dough and making a short oval shape
4. Bake on baking paper for about 30 minutes
5. Do not make them too big, as they will not cook on the inside
6. Remove put them on a cooling rack
7. Make syrup
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2 cups of water
2 cups sugar
1 cups honey
1 stick cinnamon
5 whole cloves
1 star anise
1- 2 teaspoons rosewater
1. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil for about 5 minutes on a slow heat
2. Take off heat and take out spices
3. With a slotted spoon dip each melomakarono in the syrup while still hot for a few seconds and line up on a platter in layers sprinkling each layer with coarsely chopped walnuts
* Do not refrigerate. When cooled, store in an airtight container. They will keep for a few weeks.