Anyone that knows me personally will know that I lived abroad, in Malta, for a period of my life. Since I moved back to the UK, I haven’t really missed all that much about the country (other than friends and family and so on), and the two things that I have missed are, needless to say, types of food. Maltese people have a lot of amazing food traditions, their most famous being cheesecakes known as “pastizzi” but they also have an Easter speciality which I crave on a regular basis. One of my friends posted a picture of her decorating figolli on Instagram and I had a sudden desire to make some of my own. I thought I’d share some images and the recipe here just in case you want to make a DELICIOUS Maltese traditional Easter biscuit.
Normally, a figolla (a single figolli) is enormous. They are giant, decorated cookies filled with almond paste. Because I’m greedy (and too lazy to decorate an enormous figolla), I decided to make miniature ones to share with my boyfriend and his family for Easter.
Recipe makes 12, approximately.
For the biscuit:
- 400g plain flour.
- 200g unsalted butter, cut into squares.
- 175g granulated sugar
- a dash of salt
- 2 egg yolks
- Zest from a lemon
For the marzipan paste:
- 250g ground almonds
- 250g icing sugar
- 2 egg whites
- Using a large mixing bowl, add all of the flour and the squares of butter. Rub the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Add the sugar and the lemon zest to the bowl and mix again. I’d use your fingers to really get it all mixed in properly.
3. Separate the eggs into yolks and whites. You’ll need the whites later. Add the yolks to this mix and again, mix in with your hands. Add water until a dough is formed: it should be a little stiff but easy to work with.
4. Cut the dough into two and wrap in plastic/cling film. Stick them both in the fridge for 45 minutes.
Whilst you’re waiting for the dough to chill, you can make the marzipan paste filling.
5. Mix together the ground almonds and the icing sugar, then add egg whites. Again, mix with your hands to ensure it’s all mixed in properly. Put it to one side for later.
6. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius at this point.
7. When you take the dough out of the fridge, the butter is going to quickly start to melt so you need to work quickly. Roll the dough out as well and as quickly as you can to a desired thickness (remember you’re going to be sticking two biscuits together to make a giant cake) and stick it back in the fridge for another 15 minutes to set. After it has set, use a cookie cutter to cut out your biscuits- an even number is needed. I used hearts but you can pretty much use anything you like, any size, shape, whatever. Do this until you run out of dough, simple!
8. Roll out the marzipan paste and using a smaller cookie cutter (preferably the same shape) cut out half the amount of biscuits.
9. Layer the marzipan slice on top of the first biscuit and position the second on top. Press the pastry down so that the marzipan is encrusted between the two biscuits.
10. Put the trays of biscuits in the freezer for 15 minutes to ensure they’re properly sealed together, then cook until the biscuits are golden brown. Mine took around 25 minutes.
11. Leave to cool and then decorate with chocolate, icing sugar, fondant or whatever else takes your fancy!
Do you have any Easter traditions? Let me know in the comments!