When Nanette of Gourmet Worrier invited me to participate in World Figolli Day, I said, YES! I thought it would be fun to try to find my inner Maltese while baking a lovely Easter treat Figolli and Royal Icing.
If you are not familiar with either, let me fill you in. Nanette is of Maltese descent and lives in Melbourne. She writes the wildly popular food site Gourmet Worrier when she is not being a mum to her darling children, and a wife to Huxley. Nanette and I kindled a friendship, a couple of years ago when our food sites happened to collide. We instantly hit it off, and have since enjoyed each other’s company virtually, and look forward to sharing a glass of wine, very soon. Her site is filled with wonderful recipes that share her love of her Maltese heritage with her readers.
Figolli is the most important Maltese Easter dessert. They have the texture of a shortbread cookie and are cut into shapes representing fertility. Before baking to a golden brown, a homemade almond paste is sandwiched between two of the cutout shapes. Traditionally, these cookies were enjoyed by children, post-Lent, not only by eating them but also by helping mum bake them. Since we don’t have children, I enjoyed the relaxing task by myself.
I followed Nanette’s recipe, almost to a T. Her recipe is heavy citrus influenced, which I love, especially during springtime. I could not find any lime, so added more orange zest, to my cookie base. As well, I cut the almond paste recipe in half, as I was concerned it would be too much for my small Easter cutters. I do adore orange blossom water, so I increased the amount by an additional cap full for the paste. I also used some of the heavenly scented water, in my royal icing recipe. It was lovely, and not overpowering at all; like being in Seville, sitting in the middle of an orange orchard.
I have never had Figolli, and could not wait to try the finished cookie. Once, they were baked, and iced, I treated myself to a cup of mint tea, and a sweet bite. They were not overly sweet, which I like. Slightly crunchy, but with a nice, soft, almond middle. I really loved the citrus with the almonds, as well as the orange blossom scent. Definitely took me to a place far away from San Francisco.
Easter is still a few days away. You still have time to make these treats with your children or even alone. They are easy to make and easier to eat.
Oh, did I find my inner Maltese? No, not yet, but I am sure there is a drop of her somewhere.
Recipe: Figolli and Royal Icing
4 cups powdered sugar
3 large egg whites
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon orange blossom water, I prefer the Nielsen Massey brand
food coloring, your choice
How To decorate with Royal Icing:
In a large mixing bowl, sift the powdered sugar.
Add the egg white, lemon juice, and orange blossom water; beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Color the icing whatever shade you like. I start with adding a very small drop of color, and proceed until I get the shade I am looking for.
More Figolli Recipes around the world: