Rich with butter and brandy, scented with orange and honey, and a little zing of clove and cinnamon, these cookies are delicious. After baking the recipe calls for dipping each in a rich, warm syrup of cinnamon, honey, sugar and water before sprinkling with chopped pistachios. I saved the leftover syrup (about a cup and a half worth) to make a honeyed-brandied apple sauce for eating with pancakes or waffles, mostly because I hate throwing away that much leftover, and partly to use up the remaining few tablespoons of brandy left in the bottle after baking these.
Sharon Tyler Herbst says that Venetians may have brought the recipe for these traditional Christmas treats with them in the 15th century when they and their neighbors ruled some of the Greek islands. Another theory (and alternate recipe) is outlined here: melomakarona. The blog that link will take you to also contains the only online etymology of melomakarona that I could find in my cursory search, and I am grateful to its author for that as these puzzles tend to bother me when I can find no solution… in case you haven’t yet noticed that quirk in my character.
In her recipe, Ms. Herbst calls for all-purpose flour and butter, but traditional μελομακάρονα bakers use semolina and olive oil. They also roll the pastry into an egg shape, which she suggests too, but I failed to do. They still taste pretty good though!