Moist Greek cookies with a crumbly texture carrying a beautiful melody of walnuts with a hint of orange, soaked in a sweet honey-based syrup.
For the cookies:
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- Zest of one orange
- 7 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. of baking powder
- 1 tsp. of baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup of olive oil
- 1 cup of vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup of orange juice
- 1/4 cup of brandy
- 3/4 cup of ground walnuts
- Ground cinnamon
For the syrup:
- 1 cup of honey
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 1/2 cups of water
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp of ground cloves
- The peel from 1 lemon
- 1 tsp of lemon juice
Preparing the cookies:
- Heat up your oven to 350°.
- Using your fingers in a mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the orange zest with the sugar.
- In a second bowl, combine the flour with the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir it with a fork.
- Pour the olive and vegetable oils into the bowl with the orange and sugar.
- Using a whisk or electric mixer, beat the oil/sugar/orange combination until well-blended.
- Add in the orange juice and brandy to the mixture and stir until blended.
- While still mixing, slowly add in the dry ingredients a little at a time. Stop mixing when the ingredients are incorporated, but not fully blended. You want a wet, dense mix that isn't sticky.
- Ready a cookie sheet or two with parchament paper.
- Using your fingers, grab a small amount of the dough and shape it into a ball or egg-shape. They should be around an inch in length.
- Place your ball on the sheet and then press a fork into it horizontally and vertically, forming a crosshatch. Your cookies should end up flattening down a little.
- Bake the cookies in the oven until lightly browned (25-35 minutes). Prepare the syrup while they bake.
Preparing the syrup:
- In a small saucepan, combine the honey, sugar, water, cinnamon, cloves, and lemon peel on medium heat to begin with.
- When the sugar has dissolved, bring the mixture up to a boil on high heat.
- When the mixture is boiling, lower the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat, scoop out the lemon peel and stir in the lemon juice. Set aside.
Finishing it up:
- In a small bowl or shallow plate, have your walnuts ready.
- Take the finished cookies while still warm and place them in groups into the syrup. Roll them around with a fork or spoon to make sure all sides are hit.
- Fish the cookies out of the syrup and place on a plate, top with the walnuts (press them in), and sprinkle with cinnamon to finish.
When you combine the sugar with the orange zest, really squeeze and grind up the orange in your fingers with the syrup. This releases the oils found in the zest and will flavor the sugar.
Don't overmix your dough. Your goal is a dense, wet, (but not sticky) dough. Overmixing won't give the right texture to the cookies.
Your cookies might not look as dark as you would want coming out of the oven. Don't worry, they will get darker with the additions of syrup and cinnamon.
Be careful not to burn the sugar when you make the syrup. It's why I suggest starting on medium heat and dissolving the sugar before bringing the mixture to a boil.
Do not refrigerate the cookies, as they will harden. You can just store them in an airtight container.