I know that Easter might be over; yet, I’m still all about eating Easter treats. This year I had my second go in making the Maltese Traditional Figolli. I always loved stuffing my face with these lemony orange biscuits filled with a soft almond filling. When I was still living in Malta I never tried to make them; basically because my family receives so much of them as a gift from relatives and friends, that we really never felt the need in baking more of them. However, now that I have been living abroad for a while (my third Easter away from home) I started making them and sharing them with my colleagues and Maltese friends. I decided to give it a go after I have spent a year without even tasting one, not totally my fault though as back then I was living in a studio room where I didn’t have an oven.
Maltese Figolli (sing. Figolla) are almost similar to the almond bones I have shared with you earlier in the month of November. One of the main difference is that the Figolli are traditionally made to be bigger, although there isn’t really a standard size! As these are made for Easter Sunday, the shapes are a bit in line with the theme of this season. In fact, the most common shapes are rabbit, lamb, ducks and baskets, yet in recent years there was an explosion in the making of hearts, cars, butterflies, mermaids and fish. However, you can really let your imagination go in creating the Figolla…most of the time the more creative the better. Normally you’ll have two options on how to cover them, either with a layer of royal icing or else with chocolate (the latter is my favourite). Also, it is important to decorate the figolla with a half chocolate egg on top, as it is quite symbolical. Unfortunately, this year in Luxembourg I couldn’t find any half eggs so I opted in placing a small chocolate Easter egg on top!
Basically, the recipe is quite simple although you have to have some patience as it is a bit of a long process. One of the essential utensils is the figolli cutters, which are like extra large cookie cutters. Unfortunately, from experience I know that they might be a bit hard to find in countries away from Malta, as they are quite specific cutters. Yet, if you ever make it to Malta, they are available to buy throughout the year. If not you can stencil out some shapes yourself or else use plates or and type of dish you might have and cut around it.
This recipe makes about 8 large figolli
For the pastry
- 1kg plain flour
- 450g butter
- 300g icing sugar
- 2 lemon zest
- 2 orange zest
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 tsp baking powder
- Juice of 2 oranges
- Juice of 1 lemon
For the Filling
- 600g ground almonds
- 600g icing sugar
- 6 egg whites
- 3 lemon zest
- 1 orange zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- In a bowl sift together the flour and the baking powder and put on the side.
- Cut the butter into small pieces, then in a large bowl mix with the sugar until they are combined and you get a crumbly texture.
- Add the lemon and orange zest together with the egg yolks.
- Slowly start adding the flour and baking powder, and mix and combine until you get a dough. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour.
- For the almond filling, add all the ingredients together, except from the egg whites, and combine.
- 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.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- After taking out the dough, roll it out until it is about 3cm thick.
- With the figolli cutter, cut the dough into its shapes and place them on the sheet of parchment paper.
- Fill each shape with the almond filling and cover it with another same shaped pastry.
- Press the pastry down firmly yet gently as the dough can easily break.
- Bake the biscuits for about 30-35 minutes or until lightly golden as this depends on how big the figolla is.
- When the figolli are cooked let them rest in the baking tray before moving them to a cooling rack as this may cause the figolla to break.
- When partially cooled, let them cool further on a cooling rack.
- For decorating the figolli, is best to let them completely cool so either wait over 12 hours or even until the following day (my preferred option).
- Decorate them with chocolate or icing sugar and express your creativity as freely as you like.
- Let set completely and they will be ready to be enjoyed!
If stored in a dry place, the figolli can stay up to 3 weeks.
P.S. Even though it is tempting, don’t eat a whole figolla in one sitting, better to enjoy a small piece each day 😉