Għadam tal-Mejtin – Maltese Bone Biscuit


These past days there were some festivities going on, first Halloween and then All Saints Day and All Souls’ Day followed immediately. These two days are quite important to the Maltese, as the whole country mostly considers itself as a Christian. In relation to these days, the month of November is considered as the month of the dead (ix-xahar tal-mejtin). In fact, throughout the whole month people visit more often their deceased members of the family and all cemeteries around Malta are filled with flowers and candles decorating the loved ones graves. As this monthis quite an important one for the Maltese, and as tradition prolongs, throughout the whole month one can be able to find the sweet pastry in the shape of a bone (għadam tal-mejtin).


These bone biscuits are not to be confused with the Spanish equivalent, heusos de santo and other similar sweets present in different countries. The recipe for these għadam is identical to the one of the figolli (a Maltese sweet pastry in various shapes for Easter). Basically, it is a short crust pastry filled with a rich almond filling, covered with royal icing. However, there can be some variations as some prefer to give this recipe an autumnal touch and differentiate it with the one of the figolli. I personally, prefer to do so and in my recipe I include some cloves or aniseed, which in my opinion give it a more wintery taste. Another thing, that it makes a bit different from the traditional recipe is that, even though I like royal icing and marzipan (which is another option), I prefer mine covered in white chocolate which give the bones a good balance of sweet and and citrusy.

For the shape of the biscuits, I have a medium sized bone shaped cookie cutter, but if you cannot find out you easily download a layout online and use that one instead. It is important that the biscuits are not too small, as there needs to be a good amount of filling inside between the two layers of pastry.

This recipe makes about 18 bones (12.5 cm)


For the pastry

  • 400g plain flour
  • 200g butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 lemon zest
  • 1 orange zest
  • 3 egg yolks

For the Filling

  • 200g ground almonds
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 lemon zest
  • 1 orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon cloves or aniseed
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

For decorating

  • 250g white chocolate (melted)



  1. In a large bowl mix the sugar and butter, cut into small pieces, until they are combined and you get a crumbly texture.
  2. Add the lemon and orange zest together with the egg yolks.
  3. Slowly start adding the flour and combine until you get a dough. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour.
  4. For the almond filling, add all the ingredients together without the egg whites and combine.
  5. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they get fluffy and add this to the almond mixture. This should be a soft paste. Also, refrigerate the paste for at least an hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  7. After taking out the dough, roll it out until it is about 0.5cm, which is not too thin.
  8. With the cookie cutter cut the bones and place them on the sheet of parchment paper.
  9. Fill each bone shape with the almond filling and cover it with another bone shaped pastry.
  10. Press the pastry down firmly yet gently as the dough can easily break.
  11. Bake the biscuits for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden.
  12. Let them cool on a cooling rack.
  13. In the meantime, melt the white chocolate (or prepare the royal icing).
  14. Once the biscuits are cooled, you can start decorating the biscuits by dipping them in the melted chocolate so that you have a nice cover of chocolate all over the biscuit.
  15. Allow more time for the chocolate to set and they are ready to be enjoyed.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. It’s great to know how to make bone biscuits. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. berrybrie says:

      You’re welcome! Thank you 🙂


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