My take on the traditional Maltese figolli biscuit – Lemon and orange blossom biscuits sandwiched with a delicious almond filling.
Ten years ago today I got married (well, it was actually 10 years ago yesterday, but I’m not sure I would have made it to 11 if I’d spent the evening blogging rather than having a bit of quality time with my hubby!) and we went off for a relaxing 10 days on honeymoon to Malta.
To celebrate our anniversary, I just loved the idea of making a traditional Maltese dish. Unfortunately whilst we were there (and the two other times we’ve been) I didn’t try a great deal of Maltese food, just whatever was being served at the all-you-can-eat buffet at our hotel and the occasional pizza at a cafe along the seafront. Thank goodness for google. I had a quick search and immediately settled on making some Maltese figolli biscuits.
Now, if you’ve heard of maltese figolli biscuits before then you’ll know that you’re actually supposed to eat them at Easter. But the general consensus on the sites I looked at online was that they’re so nice then you should eat them at any time of year, and I’m inclined to agree.
If you’ve not heard of them before, then they’re basically two biscuits flavoured with lemon zest and orange blossom water (although sometimes the orange blossom water goes into the filling) and then baked with an almond filling (a bit like marzipan). Traditionally they’re then decorated with royal icing, and if you’re having one at Easter, a chocolate egg is stuck on the top (I will be trying this at Easter!).
Part of the tradition of making figolli biscuits is that it’s a bit of a family activity. Everyone can get involved in decorating their own special biscuits, so I thought I’d get the boys involved and see what they could create…
Their biscuit decorating skills may need a little more practice, but we had a lot of fun making them.
Personally I prefer to eat them without the icing, so I left it out of the recipe below (especially as I cheated on mine and stuck right in my comfort zone of using fondant rather than royal icing).
Maltese Figolli Biscuits
- Weighing scales
- Grater or zester
- Large bowl
- Measuring spoons
- Cling film
- Greaseproof paper or non-stick sheet (I use bake-o-glide sheets)
- Biscuit cutter (whatever shape you fancy)
For the biscuits
For the almond filling
- 200 g caster sugar
- 2 medium egg whites
- 200 g ground almonds
- 2 tsp almond extract
Make the biscuit dough
- Finely grate the zest of 2 lemons
- Cut the butter (200g) into cubes and place in a large bowl with the plain flour (400g), caster sugar (250g) and baking powder (1 tsp). Rub the butter into the dry ingredients (as you would if you're making pastry) until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add the lemon zest and orange blossom water (4 tsp) to the bowl and stir to evenly distribute them through the other ingredients.
- Add the egg yolks (5 yolks) and using your hands mix them into the other ingredients until they come together (I tend to find that using a squeezing action works best).
- Wrap the dough in cling film and pop it into a fridge for a few minutes while you make the filling.
Make the almond filling
- Put all of your ingredients into a large bowl (200g caster sugar, 2 medium egg whites, 200g ground almonds, 2 tsp almond extract).
- Mix until combined (yes, it's that simple!)
- Make the biscuits
- Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC/150ºC fan
- Line your baking tray with some greaseproof paper or similar (I always use bake-o-glide sheets)
- Roll out your biscuit dough until it is about 2mm thick (I prefer to only roll out enough for a couple of biscuits at a time as it's more manageable). If you find that the dough is sticking to the rolling pin/work surface then try rolling it out between two sheets of cling film, that way it peels off easily.
- Roll out the filling (again, this is much easier to do between two sheets of cling film).
- Using a cookie cutter, cut two identical shapes from the dough and one from the filling. Make a sandwich of dough, filling, dough and place onto your baking tray. If you're cutting a fancy shape it can be a little tricky to line up the three layers. To get them perfectly aligned, cut the shape in the dough, place the cut shape onto the filling and use it to line up to cutter, pick up both pieces together and then put these onto the dough for making the base.
- Once you've cut out all of your biscuits, put them into the oven and bake for 20 minutes until they're starting to brown on top.
- Remove them from the oven and leave them to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Once they've cooled they're ready to decorate (or as I prefer, sprinkle with icing sugar and gobble them all up 🙂 )
Any nutritional information provided is the estimated nutritional information per serving. Please refer to my guide to Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen nutritional information if you would like to learn more about how this is calculated.