If you’re Maltese, Easter means figolli (or figolla in the singular). Its basically a big biscuit with an almond marzipan filling, colourfully decorated. We make lots to give to each other as gifts on Easter Sunday, and then spend the next 2 weeks eating them.
As with any traditional recipe each family has their own version, this is my Nanna Mary’s recipe.
First you need to make the shortcrust pastry: Ghagina tal-figolli
800 g plain flour
1½ packets Stork margarine (or similar)
3 teaspoons baking powder
300 g sugar
grated rind of one lemon
Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl.
Cut the margarine into small cubes. Add to flour and rub the margarine into the flour until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. (You can do this by hand or in the mixer).
Add the lemon rind and sugar and mix in.
Beat eggs and use them to bind the mixture.
Next, the marzipan filling: Mili tal-marzipan ghall-figolli
300 g ground almonds
200 g icing sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
a few drops of almond essence
2 egg whites, beaten and added one at a time
Mix the almonds and sugar in a bowl.
Add the lemon juice and a little almond essence.
Gradually add the egg whites. (The paste has spread easily but not be runny. If stiff, add a few drops of lemon juice or a little bit of water).
Roll out the pastry to around 5mm thick, and cut out 2 shapes for each figolla you’re going to make. Put the filling on the bottom shape, with a little space around the edges, use water to moisten the space and put the other shape on top.
Cook in an oven on 180 degrees for around 20 minutes, until the pastry is cooked.
Leave to cool completely before you ice for the first time.
Glacé icing (for the base cover)
Sift the icing sugar into a bowl.
Carefully, add a few drops of food colouring and some water and mix, till you get a coating consistency.
The more colourful the better!
Once your base icing is fully dry it’s time for decorating with royal icing.
Royal Icing (for the piping)
In practice, the best way to do this is to start by beating the egg white slightly with a wooden spoon in a bowl.
Gradually add sifted icing sugar and stir until you get a thick smooth consistency that is suitable for piping.
Pipe patterns onto your figolli, decorating with a chocolate egg (it is Easter, after all).
This year, my decorating efforts could have been better (my royal icing was a bit thin and my base not colourful enough):
But, here’s some I made a couple of years ago to redeem me:
Have you made figolli this year? Send me your pictures and I’ll put them up! email@example.com