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Monday, 19 December 2016

melomakarouna and kourabiethes - Xmas treats

Greek Christmas sweet making

The two 'cookies' that you will find in every greek house at Christmas are melomakarouna (honey biscuits) and kourabiethes (almond biscuits)

We make mounds of them before Christmas and give them away to friends, neighbours and visitors.  Neighbours and friends do the same so we end up with a selection of  sweets baked by local housewives.  I prefer our neighbour Fani's biscuits.  She uses only the best local honey and her almond biscuits are so sweet and delicate they almost fall apart before you get them into your mouth.

The almond biscuits are full of butter.  Sheep's butter.  Sometimes a little too 'sheepy'.  The best butter comes from Kerkyra (Corfu) .  It is a very pale yellow with a grainy texture and is very obviously straight from the stable.  

I prefer Lurpak.  Traditional people however buy their butter by the kilo from the grocer, great spoonfuls squashed into a plastic container.  It must be used as soon as possible before it goes off.

The almonds must be local, even better if they are still in their shells and have to be smashed open.  Only then are you sure they are fresh.  Same with walnuts.   Local runny dark brown honey is used in the syrup of the honey biscuits.  These should be made using only fresh local oil and can be eaten during the Fast.

If you had a death in the family in the last year you should not be doing any baking or fancy cooking.   Friends and family make extra and give them to those in mourning to 'sweeten' the sorrowful house.

Our grandchildren made the sweets this year.  It was all hands in.  The eggs and sugar are beaten with an electric mixer but when the flour is added the volume is too much for  the mixer and it all gets tipped into a big bowl to get worked by hand

These are the honey biscuits.  They are really quite plain when first baked

Then they are dipped into a big pot of honey syrup and come out sweet and syrupy,  to be topped by a mix of nuts and cinnamon.

                           Now they are irresistible  

After four big trays of honey biscuits, melomakarouna, it is time for the almond ones, kourabiethes.

Greek vanilla.  The vanilla is a powder which always comes in these white plastic containers with the red lid which will never come off and has to be pulled off with your teeth

Almond biscuits just out of the oven.  Next they are sprinkled with rose water.  Rose water has the most delcious fragrance which wafts around the house and perfumes every corner.  The almond biscuits are then drenched in icing sugar and then it is eating time!  These are my favourite, full of butter, sugar and that seductive rose water scent

This is about half of what we actually made.  Each family took home a mound.  We gave a big plateful to Vaso this morning in return for a bag of big lemons, mandarines and lotus fruit. K has already taken another container full to his widowed friend and another will go tonight to a family down the road.  More will disappear  as I give a few to our english friends and also to the 'carol' singers on Christams Eve.


  1. Those biscuits look delicious although being diabetic and on a gluten free diet most likely out of the question for me. What part of New Zealand did you come from?

    1. I was brought up in Te Puke. It's a beautiful country!

      Love following your blog

  2. They all look wonderful; the Greek equivalent of Mince Pies and Christmas Cake.

    1. Every country seems to have a sweet tradition. It's nice here that they share them with everyone.

  3. Many years ago I knew a Greek family who would give me a gift of cookies similar to those. They also baked bread and gave some to me. It was all wonderful and very different from the traditional cookies and sweets I was used to. -Jenn

  4. Interesting reading about you Christmas cards customs LA. I believe they were invented by the Victorians to be sent to people you don't see at Christmas. In Ireland it's common not to send Christmas cards if you have lost somebody that year.

    1. I used to send a lot of cards but now send half a dozen to people I don't have contact with over the net.....not many of those these days

  5. I nearly licked the screen. they look so yummy

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Next time you come to Greece! Till then, just enjoy those mince pies.

  6. I love them
    Might have to travel to the Greek precent and get me some lol
    Feeling peckish now