Spicy Baked Syrup Cakes
(Melomakaroma)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups honey
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 pound walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups butter, softened, divided
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon (or more), divided
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • Juice from 2 oranges, strained
  • 2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour or more
  • 2 ounces walnuts, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Combine the honey, granulated sugar, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  2. Combine the walnuts with 1/4 cup of the softened butter, 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon and 5 tablespoons of the syrup. Reserve the remaining syrup and set the filling aside while you prepare the dough.
  3. Using an electric mixer, cream the remaining 1 cup butter with the oil until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar, beating on medium speed. Add the orange juice slowly to the batter, along with the Cognac or brandy, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon and the other spices.
  4. In a small bowl, sift the baking powder, baking soda and 2 cups of the flour together. Slowly add the flour mixture to the batter and beat for a few minutes. Continuing to mix by hand, add only enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead. Break off small pieces of the dough and shape with your fingers into oblongs about 2 1/2 inches long and 1 inch high. Flatten between your palms and place 1 teaspoon of the filling mixture in the center. Work the dough around the filling to enclose it completely and press firmly to seal. This procedure sounds difficult, but with many hands it is quite simple. Place on a cookie sheet and continue until all the cakes are shaped.
  5. Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees F) for 25 minutes, then cool on a rack.
  6. Bring the syrup back to a boil. Dip each cake into the syrup and arrange on a platter. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped walnuts and teaspoon cinnamon, or more if desired. Cool before storing.

You may bake and cool melomakaroma, store a few days in advance and dip in syrup as described above a day or so before serving. The flavor improves after a few days.

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