Traditional Maltese sweets for Lent and Easter

Easter’s almost here and since days look like have become just numbers I better look for my family’s figolli’s and Kwarezimal recipes which I will share with you. Today I went to buy the ingredients and I will prepare them tomorrow since today I promised not to have any sweets and second reason is no sugars since I’m back on the low-carb diet. I usually prepare the figollis first since they take most preparations to make whereas the kwarezimal, take much less time to do them. This year like the last three I will also be preparing the chocolate eggs as well.
So let’s start from the figolli and for the foreigners who pass by my blog, Figolli are two pastries sandwich filled with pure almond filling cut out to represent symbolic figures, then covered with icing or my favourite decoration melted chocolate preferably the fondente type the higher to cocoa the better. I bought the metal shapes around ten years ago but one can easily use a cardboard shape but I would like to recommend a large dish in this case since the almond filling usually tends to come out while cooking. Then when its ready and very important cool cut the desired shape with a sharp knife (and you can also eat the trimmings mmmmm). The following was a tradional sang by children where it talks about a fair where one plays the wheel of fortune to win a figolla, most probably they were fair usually organised by the church to raise funds in the village square.

'I am thou art figolla
I am kilieli kollha
I am dawwart is-sej
tela' l-ottu u ma hadt xejn'

Ingredients to makes around 10 figolli
For the pastry

1kg plain flour, sifted
500 grams sugar
1pkt shortening
1pkt margarine (fine cake margarine my fav)
4 eggs
Juice of 1 lemon
Vanilla essence
Little milk
For the filling paste
400 grams sugar
400 grams pure ground almond
50ml water

Make the pastry by rubbing in the shortening, butter and flour until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Mix the sugar with the eggs and add the mixture above. Add the lemon and the vanilla essence and knead it to elastic dough.
For the filling put the sugar and the water on a low flame and when sugar melts add the almonds. Blend the mixture very well and let it cool Roll out the pastry and cut out your shapes. Make two of each figure as they will be sandwiched with almond paste. Lay the first shape on a greased and floured baking tray, spread with almond paste, leaving a small margin. Lay the second shape over the top and press the edges together. Wet the edges with a brush dipped in milk to ensure adhesion- Bake at 180'C/350'F/gas 4, for about 20 minutes, until pale golden. Cool on the tray.
When cold, coat with icing or chocolate then decorate with royal icing in a different colour, while the icing is soft, press a small, foil-wrapped Easter egg in the middle of each shape and I also like to cover the icing with shiny sugar coated balls. One should enjoy both delicacies as a dessert after the Easter Lunch or for a rich Easter tea, but usually mine always finish within the week...

Kwarezimal – Almond soft biscuits

the word kwarezimal refers to quaresima, literally the quadragesima, the forty days of Lent. read from

Ingredients for around 18 biscuits
400 grams pure ground almonds
200 grams brown sugar
2 teaspoons drinking chocolate
2 teaspoons mixed spice
Grated rind of 1 lemon, 1 orange and 1 tangerine
Little milk

For decoration

Little honey
Coarsely ground roasted peanuts

Mix together all ingredient and blend together with the milk to make brown stiff dough. Knead lightly until well amalgamated and shape into ovals, approximately 15cm long, 5 cm wide and 2 cm thick. Place on greased and floured baking trays and bake at 190'C/375'F/gas 5 for about 15 minutes. it is important that they remain still soft inside and crunchy outside.

While still hot, spread with Malta honey and press on chopped, unsalted peanuts. Again try to keep some in an airtight container for Easter. I wonder why my set of airtight containers are all still in their original box!!!!

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