Mykonos and Melomakarona

August 30th, 2011

mykonos melomakarona

My second favorite Greek island would have to be Mykonos. This part of our trip was essentially fairytale Greece: sunwashed beaches, gorgeous white houses, unfailingly blue sky. Not to mention the Greeks’ fairly relaxed concept of time…meaning it’s pretty impossible not to feel mellow and lazy after staring at the ocean with lemonade in hand for a couple of hours.

mykonos bay

The approach to Mykonos town. There’s no mountain to climb up like at Santorini: you just sail right in and the town is there laid out like white toy blocks on lapis.

mykonos path

Wandering through the cool blue and white labyrinth of Mykonos town. The streets were supposedly built winding and meandering to confuse invading pirates; in any case, it definitely makes exploring the town an interesting adventure. You’ll find yourself unexpectedly going down the same alleys again and again,  although we did eventually make our way out.

mykonos street

One of my favorite artists, Thomas McKnight, loved Greece and made it the subject of many of his prints. I was astonished to find how accurately he had captured the whitewashed houses, cobblestone streets, and brightly painted doors – it was like I had stepped inside his art.

mykonos doorway

I love how you can catch unexpected glimpses of the sea; in Mykonos, you’re never far from the water.

mykonos little venice

Little Venice, a conglomeration of chic shops, restaurants, and bars perched on the edge of the sea, Venice-style. Obviously a tourist magnet, but early in the morning it isn’t so bad – in fact, it’s breathtakingly lovely.  Now I understand why people buy overpriced coffees just so they can sit at a cafe and gaze out over the sea.

mykonos little venice bar

Closer view of one of many waterfront cafes.

mykonos windmills

The famous windmills at little Venice. They were built by the Venetians and originally used to mill grain, but they are no longer operational and now function mostly as a photography targets.

mykonos moussaka

We had some excellent moussaka for lunch.

mykonos rooftop

View over the rooftops of town, with little Venice to the left. You can see its a lot more spread out than Santorini but just as brilliantly white.

mykonos baklava

Baklava we had a little bar by the water – everything does taste better drenched in sunshine and sea breezes.

mykonos honey

We also discovered a wonderful little store in town that sold all sorts of local honey.

mykonos honey store bee

The cute little sign for the honey store.

mykonos honey store

The interior of the store was just as charming; see the ceiling? And wall to wall honey jars. And a cute Greek guy asking if you’d like to sample some honey. Seriously, if you see this store – go in.

mykonos harbor

Headed back to the harbor and the perfect turquoise waters.

mykonos thyme honey

At the honey store I couldn’t resist picking some thyme honey, one of the most celebrated varieties from Greece. It has a beautifully clean, crisp flavor; sharper than most honeys here. I already showed off the baklava I made with some of this yummy Greek honey. Here’s another classic Greek sweet that uses honey: melomakarona, or Greek honey macaroons.

These melomakarona (Greek for, literally, “honey macaroon”), are nothing like French macarons, or the coconut macaroons of the US. They are a cookie all their own, made of flour and sugar, brandy and oil, mixed with citrus, cinnamon and cloves. The resulting sandy-textured cookies are then dipped in a honey syrup (The Greeks love drenching their pastries in honey) and rolled in crushed walnuts and sesame seeds. My hubby, who isn’t a fan of super sweet desserts (I know, awful, right?), really liked these – they are hearty, nutty, sweet and spicy at once.

mykonos honey syrup

The syrup is made from water, honey, cinnamon, and cloves. The macaroons are dipped briefly in the syrup so the outer layers soak up the flavor while the insides stay crunchy. The macaroons are good on their own, but dipped in syrup they are outstandingly addictive.

These cookies are traditionally a Christmas or New Year’s sweet – not surprising, given all the citrus and spices – but they’re delicious even out of season. It’s a wonderful, unusual addition to your cookie repertoire, and a great use of your favorite honey.

mykonos honey macaroons

Greek Honey Macaroons

makes 3 dozen cookies

Macaroons

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 cups (15 oz) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon brandy or cognac
  • 1 teaspoon orange or lemon zest
  • 3/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Topping

  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds. toasted
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted and finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Syrup

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

For the macaroons:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  • Dissolve the baking soda in the lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Place the baking soda mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add in the olive oil, water, brandy, lemon zest, cinnamon, and cloves. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes until combined.
  • With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture. Mix until dough is mostly combined. It should resemble coarse meal, not a solid ball of dough. If you squeeze a handful together, it should stick together.
  • Roll tablespoons of dough into cylinders 2 inches long and 1 inch wide. Place on prepared sheets about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake for 28-30 minutes, rotating halfway through, until firm and golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

For the topping:

  • While the cookies are cooling, combing all the topping ingredients in a small bowl.

For the syrup:

  • Combine all the syrup ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and skim any foam off the top.
  • Line several cookie sheets with foil or parchment paper. Place 6-8 cookies at a time in the syrup for about 30 seconds (use caution as syrup will be hot). Use a slotted spoon to remove the cookies, shake off excess syrup, and place on the prepared sheets.
  • Sprinkle cookies immediately with the topping. Let cool for about an hour before serving. Store covered for up to a week.

Miette

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12 Comments so far ↓

  • Sasha @ The Procrastobaker #1

    These sound sublime! Some beauutiful photos too, what a lovely post :)

  • Anita Menon #2

    Sounds like you had an ideal holiday. The pictures are like postcards- pristine looking water and skies laced with fluffy clouds.

    Wish to do a trip to that side of the world soon.

    Thanks for sharing such glorious pictures.
    The macaroons look wonderful

  • Lisa #3

    I have loved your posts from your cruise. The pictures have been gorgeous, and the recipes and food look delicious. Thanks for sharing.

  • snooky doodle #4

    These llook delicious! I made these once :) I lll try this recipe now :)
    Will you be visiting Malta too ? Since you re already in Europe :)

  • Cassie #5

    These look amazing!! I love your blog! I’ve tried a lot of your recipes and they tasted amazing… but they don’t come out as pretty as yours.

    Looks like you had a wonderful summer. I hope I get to travel to Greece and Italy someday.

  • Skippy #6

    Thank you for the beautiful pictures and the stories! About the recipe–I’m so curious about why you dissolve the baking soda in the lemon juice. I’ve never seen that before. I guess that’s just another way to leaven, a pre-baking powder thing maybe?

  • Li #7

    Such a lovely trip! Would love to go there someday! Nice pictures and blog too!

    Regards,
    Li

  • playmobil #8

    Love the pictures and the story is great. The recipe you have done look amazing it has a nice appearance and I think it tastes good. I will try that at home.

  • The Sweetest Vegan #9

    I just love blue and white is combination!

  • Maureen #10

    I love Greek pastry! I’ve never tried these so they’ll be next on the list. Your photos are magic and have me craving travel to Greece.

  • Lucija #11

    Ohhh, your blog = DELICIOUS!
    Wonderful post!!
    Follow each other? :)

    XO,
    Lucija
    WLL

  • My Little Expat Kitchen #12

    Mmm melomakarona. I saw this and thought it was Christmas already. In Greece we make these only during the Xmas holidays.

    Nice photos of Mykonos!

    Magda

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