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
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
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
- 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.
- 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.
- Knead dough until nice and smooth, form the dough into a ball and rest it in the fridge for 1 hour.
Making the filling
- In another bowl, mix all the filling ingredients together until it forms a smooth paste.
- Set aside.
Putting the two together
- Pre-heat your oven to 170*C.
- Lay out a piece of baking paper on your working space (this will make it easier when lifting the dough after rolling it).
- Roll the dough out to approximately 1cm thick.
- 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).
- 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.
- Lay the second shape on top and use water or milk to soften and bind the edges together.
- Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
The fun bit – Icing!
- Beat the egg whites in a bowl and add the lemon juice.
- Add the sieved sugar to the egg mixture until a smooth icing is formed.
- 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.
- Ensure the figolla/għadma (lol) has completely cooled down so that the icing does not melt and drip straight off it.
- Spread the glaze icing on top of the figolla/għadma.
Decorating with Royal Icing
Not needed if making Għadam tal-Mejtin
- Repeat steps 1-3 above.
- Ensure the consistency of the icing is thicker and holds better than the glaze, if not, add more icing sugar.
- Ensure that the glaze on your figolla is completely dry, otherwise your decorating with royal icing will bleed into the glaze.
- 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.
© Copyright Charmaine Cassar 2015