My Secret Recipe


Because I was in Malta for Easter this year, I missed out on making my figolli. Figolli are a traditional Maltese sweet made at Easter time. It’s kind of like a giant cookie, with almond filling and colourful icing on top and in the shape of… Well, anything really. You can have Easter eggs, bunny rabbits, the Maltese cross, even a Maltese luzzu!

So because I didn’t get to make my figolli, I thought I’d take advantage of making Għadam tal-Mejtin, which literally translates to “bones of the dead” or dead man’s bones. They are a tradition in Malta, made in remembrance of the departed for All Soul’s Day. All Soul’s day is a day of prayer and honour for our loved ones that have passed away. I guess the “bones of the dead” make it a little creepy, but they taste amazing 😍 And well, I felt good with my end product because I was thinking of those I hold closest to my heart, especially my nanniet.

Anyway, I shared a picture of the ingredients on MAYC‘s FB page and left it there for people to guess what I was baking up tonight. Took a few guesses, but eventually they got it! I got asked a couple of times for the recipe, so here I am, sharing my secret figolla/għadam tal-mejtin recipe.


800g self raising flour, sifted
230g castor sugar
340g butter
3 eggs
1 whole lemon’s peel, grated
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Pinch of salt


170g ground almonds
170g castor sugar
100g icing sugar
1/2 a lemon’s peel, grated
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg

GLAZE ICING (the base colour that covers the whole figolla)

2 egg whites
400g icing sugar
Half a lemon freshly squeezed
Food colouring of your prefernce

ROYAL ICING (to decorate the edges of the figolla and add other details to your design)

2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
3 cups of confectioners icing sugar, sifted
Food colouring of your preference

Alternatively, you can buy ready made royal icing, all you need to do is add water (this is what I use).

Making the pastry

  1. Sieve the flour into a bowl, add the castor sugar, butter, grated lemon peel vanilla essence and salt. Use your hand and mix together until you have a bread crumb consistency.
  2. Now add the eggs and mix through until you start to create a smooth dough. If the dough isn’t sticking together and is still crumbling, add some water.
  3. Knead dough until nice and smooth, form the dough into a ball and rest it in the fridge for 1 hour.

Making the filling

  1. In another bowl, mix all the filling ingredients together until it forms a smooth paste.
  2. Set aside.

Putting the two together

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 170*C.
  2. Lay out a piece of baking paper on your working space (this will make it easier when lifting the dough after rolling it).
  3. Roll the dough out to approximately 1cm thick.
  4. Use your figolli cutter (or free-hand with a knife) ensuring you cut two of the same (one for the bottom and one for the top).
  5. Lay one of the shapes onto your baking tray and spread the almond filling on it (about 1cm thick), keeping it at least 1/2cm away from the edge so that you can join and press the other shape on top.
  6. Lay the second shape on top and use water or milk to soften and bind the edges together.
  7. Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

The fun bit – Icing!

  1. Beat the egg whites in a bowl and add the lemon juice.
  2. Add the sieved sugar to the egg mixture until a smooth icing is formed.
  3. Depending on how intense you want the colour to be, add a drop or two of your preferred food colouring. If you’re making Għadam tal-Mejtin, you would leave the icing white.
  4. Ensure the figolla/għadma (lol) has completely cooled down so that the icing does not melt and drip straight off it.
  5. Spread the glaze icing on top of the figolla/għadma.

Decorating with Royal Icing

 Not needed if making Għadam tal-Mejtin

  1. Repeat steps 1-3 above.
  2. Ensure the consistency of the icing is thicker and holds better than the glaze, if not, add more icing sugar.
  3. Ensure that the glaze on your figolla is completely dry, otherwise your decorating with royal icing will bleed into the glaze.
  4. Use a piping bag to outline/decorate your figolla. Get creative, add sprinkles, other baking decorations – go wild!

I then lay my figolli out on a board covered in foil, ready to give to family and friends at Easter! For Għadam tal-Mejtin, I just put these in a container, because they are a lot smaller than a figolla, and let my family and friends help themselves 🙂

Some tips to consider:

  • If making Għadam tal-Mejtin, you will have enough dough – depending on the size of your bones, you can get anywhere from 8-12 bones. However, if making figolli, depnding on how many you want to make, you may need two lots of dough. I usually get 12 figolli out of two batches of dough.
  • When mixing your icing, before adding your colour, split the icing into a few different bowls so you get a few colours out of the one batch 😉
  • Again, ensure that 1. your figolla/għadma has completely cooled off and 2. ensure your glaze is completely dry.
  • Leave the icing to dry over night.
  • Enjoy!

© Copyright Charmaine Cassar 2015


  One thought on “My Secret Recipe

  1. September 17, 2018 at 10:23 AM

    This sounds great 👍🏻 I would love to try this.!


  2. March 21, 2016 at 6:44 AM

    The enticing figolli are filling storefronts and stands here in Valletta. Even though I can’t eat gluten, I couldn’t resist purchasing a figolla for my husband. He enjoyed the cookie immensely and said it reminded him of sweets from his childhood. Now that I have your recipe, perhaps I can adapt it into a gluten-free version. Grazzi ħafna for that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 21, 2016 at 9:44 AM

      Ohhh the biscuit bit just melts in your mouth and the filling is to die for! Let me know if you do end up making them! x


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