Saturday, April 11, 2009

Maltese Figolli ~ An Easter Tradition

Every Easter when we were young, Mum used to make these lovely almond pastries which were like gingerbread shapes filled with almond paste. She made several of these and we always got to chose a shape we liked...I used to love having a mermaid or an Easter basket or a fish, also a heart...other shapes included a butterfly, a lamb or a car or even the shape of a man or woman. Sometimes we would come up with a new shape and make the patterns ourselves.
Each figolla once baked would be decorated with glace icing and an Easter egg. These were very large pastries and used to last several days especially that we each had our own!
Here is the recipe:

For the pastry:
175 grams caster sugar
400 grams plain flour, sifted
200 grams butter
Grated rind of 1/2 lemon
2 egg yolks, beaten
A little water

For the almond paste:
300 g caster or icing sugar
A few drops orange flower water (or almond essence if you can't find the Orange flower water)
Grated rind of 1/2 lemon
300 grams almonds, ground
2 egg whites

To finish:
Glacé icing (200g icing sugar + 2 tblspoons warm water)
Royal icing (optional)
Small Easter eggs

This recipe will make about 4 figolli depending on the size of the patterns used and the thickness of each rolled out shape.

Make the pastry by first sieving the flour in a large bowl, then rubbing in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Add the sugar and the grated lemon rind and bind with the yolks, mixing with a little water to make a fairly pliable dough. Leave to chill.

To make the almond paste add the sugar, orange flower water and lemon rind to the ground almonds, and bind with the egg whites.
Roll out the pastry and cut out in the shapes you have chosen.

Make two of each shape as these will be sandwiched with almond paste.
Lay the first shape on a greased and floured baking tray, spread with almond paste, leaving a small margin.
Lay the second shape over the top and press the edges together.
It helps if you wet the edges with a pastry brush to ensure the pastry seals well.

Repeat with the rest of the shapes so that each pastry will have two shapes sandwiched with a layer of almond paste.
Bake at 200'C/400'F/gas 6 for 5 minutes, then at 180'C/350'F/gas 4, for about 20 minutes, until pale golden. I would say a moderate oven, make sure they don't burn as the last minutes are crucial to the end result. It is not the first time I had to scrape the bottom of a couple of shapes!

(For those whose ovens cook very rapidly I suggest you put a pan of cold water on the shelf underneath the shelf with your pastries.)
Let cool on the tray.
When the pastries are thoroughly cold, spread a coat of glacé icing and decorate with royal icing in a different colour to define the pattern chosen.

While the icing is still soft, press a small, foil-wrapped Easter egg in the middle of each shape.

Instead of making several shapes you could roll out half of the pastry mixture and place onto your greased and floured baking pan, making sure it does not touch the sides.
Cover with the almond filling and again roll the rest of the pastry to cover. Seal by wetting the edges with a pastry brush, keeping away from the sides of the pan. This will make one large pastry the shape of your pan. Once cold again decorate with icing or chocolate and cut into squares.

If you have the patience to make these, try making many small figolli using your favourite cookie cutters. If any of you try making the figolli in any shape or size, send me pictures and I will feature them on my blog : )

Footnotes: When rolling out the pastry make sure you use plenty of flour so that it does not stick to the surface.
Since I have had enquiries about where to buy the figolli shapes, I thought I had best post about it here. You can look in the baking section of most supermarkets. You could also make your own by cutting out templates from cardboard and then using them to cut around as you place them on the rolled out dough. Another idea is to re-cycle those empty plastic boxes of chocolate that come in the shape of hearts or stars to use as large cutters.
The filling should be spread on the pastry about 1cm thick.
If you want to make larger quantities, you can of course double the ingredients.
For those watching their diet, you can use less sugar in the pastry. If you double the pastry, do not use more than 200g sugar and 3 medium egg yolks will be enough to bind.


Pictures are from from my files


  1. Oh how nice!
    I remember those wonderful pastries we used to get for Easter. I would really love one ... so many years have passed since I tasted one of those. I had made one myself about 16 Easters ago, I gave it the shape of a dove and I have the photo too somewhere.
    Nice memories, sis, thanks.
    Happy Easter!

  2. Hello sis, yes great memories eh! We have to make some when you come over then.
    If you find the picture send it to me, I'd love to add it to this feature.
    Happy Easter to you too,
    Hugs and Blessings,

  3. HiDoreen,
    Can you please tell me where i can find the shapes to make the figolli.



  4. Hi Dave,
    I don't know where you are from but locally we find them in most of the larger supermarkets. One might also find them in smaller grocery stores. Look for them in the baking section. There are also specialty shops that sell baking supplies and cake decorating items. You could also make your own shapes and cut out the sweet pastry by placing your desired shape and cutting around it with a sharp knife.
    Besides the suggestion that you can use cookie cutters, you could also use those empty plastic boxes of chocolate that are in the shape of a heart or a star and use these as templates (a great way to re-cycle these) ~ just make sure they are clean before using them to cut out the shapes.
    Hope this has helped.
    Thanks for your interest in this posting, hope you will enjoy making the figolli.

  5. Hi Doreen,

    I'm from the western suburbs of Sydney, where are you?


  6. We are on the island of Malta in husband said I should put up the Maltese flag on my blog, maybe I will : )
    I am adding some footnotes to the Figolli recipe in case you have not yet made them.

  7. Doreen, I am loving your blog! :)

  8. Hi yes just a lttle to far for me at the moment.


  9. Hi Doreen,

    I am in need of a huge favour. Am looking for the little strainers that that you use to make Pepper Cheese, cant get them anywhere in Australia. If I were to transfer money into your account would you consider purchasing them and posting over.

    Appreciate your help.

    Thanks, Dave

  10. Hi Dave,
    I will let you know if they are available here and will let you know. In the meantime could you send me your email so that I can contact you.

  11. Thanks Dave for sending your email, I will not post it here for privacy reasons. Just wanted to let you know I have your addy. Will try and get some info on the strainers some time next week : )
    Have a great weekend,

  12. Hi Doreen,

    Thank you so much for creating such a wonderful website/blog . I made your figolli today and they turned out well for my first time .

    Happy Easter ! :-)


  13. Thanks for writing Michelle. I am really happy to hear your figolli turned out right the first time using the recipe I posted.
    I hope you'll stop by again : )
    Happy Easter Blessings,

  14. Hi Doreen,

    Thanks so much .. it was only with your help that i was able to make them and i can't express how delighted my family is . I will be sure to stop in again very soon . I have passed your website on to many to enjoy .

    God Bless - Sending Easter Blessings your way .


  15. Oh how wonderful to know that your figolli delighted your family. It's really nice of you to stop by again and so sweet of you to pass my site on to others. Thanks so much!
    Have a wonderful Easter with family and friends,
    Doreen : )

  16. As an afterthought Michelle if you have pictures of your figolli I'd be delighted to feature them on my blog : ) Think about it!

  17. Hi Doreen,

    I have been so busy with Easter and all .. My apologies for not responding earlier . I have one of a bunny .. i will share and thanks so very much . I am so happy i found your site / blogs . God bless you Doreen . :-)

  18. Thanks so much Doreen i couldn't have made them without your help . I took a picture of a Teddy Bear figollia i made . :-) Would love to share it with you hun . I think i have to email you the picture ... Sorry ! Not use to blogging . Please advise ... Thanks so much for your help Doreen . God bless you !

  19. Hi again Michelle hope you had a lovely Easter. You can email me at to send me the picture. I tried to use the pic you have in the icon but it is a little too small. Hope to hear from you soon : )

  20. Hi Michelle, in case you get back on this post, I just wanted to let you know I posted the picture of your Teddy Bear which you used as an icon, although it's small I can tell you did a really fine job.
    Here's a link to where I posted it... or do a search using the Search Bar in the upper right hand corner.
    Take care,

  21. Thanks so much Doreen for all of your help . :-)

  22. Hi Doreen, I just wanted to know if the butter should be room temperature or cold ? this will be my first time making them with my kids . thanks

    1. Hi this is coming quite late as a reply. So sorry but I have been without my own pc for almost a year. I got it back today.
      As for your question, I would say take it out of the fridge about half an hour before using it. That is what I do but then it all depends on your room temperature. The butter should be firm enough to work with but not too soft. Hope that helps you. And if you have already made the figolli I hope they came out fine for you.


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, your input and time are greatly appreciated.

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