Sorry- just posted this recipe with the wrong name, should say Kourambiedes not Melomakarana!!!! You have got to try this recipe!! Got this from a Greek friend which had been passed from her mother and grandmother. The secret is the "staxto-nero" (water in which you've boiled ash from the fireplace!) Ash from a wood burning fire works best. Sounds strange but results are yummy. I just made them for the first time using the staxto-nero, everyone raved about them, truly tried and tested!
Staxto-nero has many uses - great for cleaning - dishes, pots, pans, kitchen tiles and also for laundry!!
1STAXTO-NERO: Add the ash to the water, bring to the boil, let sit for five minutes, bring back to the boil, remove from the heat and strain. Use a fine strainer. The water will look dark, pour into a glass and leave for about 10 minutes, sediment will settle at the bottom of the glass, pour into a clean glass leaving the sediment, which you just throw away. Now you have staxto-nero!
2Put a little butter in a pan and add the almonds, stir continually until they are slightly toasted.
3In a large bowl, beat the butter, margarine and 1/2 cup caster sugar for about five minutes. Should be white and airy. Add toasted almonds, vanilla and staxto-nero. MIX WELL WITH A WOODEN SPOON.
4Gradually add the flour, you may use slightly less then 10000 grams, depending on the flour. Use you hands to knead it, the dough should not stick to your hands, but moist enough to be able to shape, and hold the cookie shape.
5Bake at 200 for 12-15 minutes. The cookies will still be a pale color but are ready when they start to slightly brown around the edges.
6While you're waiting for the cookies to bake, get your tray ready. Sift plenty of caster sugar covering the whole tray. remove the cookies from the oven and while still hot arrange in lines on the tray and immediately dredge lots of caster sugar on top. It's best to leave them overnight and dredge again next day. In my house that wasn't possible, kids ate them right away!! The cookies can be stored in an air-tight container for several days. Good luck with that!