Figolli (singular: figolla) are an almond-based Maltese dessert traditionally prepared in time for Easter. They are generally moulded into recognisable shapes such as a heart, a lamb, an angel or a chicken using metal forms. After baking, a figolla is elaborately decorated with icing on a thin lemon or chocolate base. Although they are prepared in Lent, figolli should not be eaten before Easter Sunday.
It is believed that the traditional "figolla" dates back to the times of the Knights of St John i.e. the 16th century. The name transpired from a corruption of the Italian word "figura" which means shape.
The ingredients shown below are sufficient for two medium-sized figolli. Pure, ready-ground almonds are recommended, since otherwise, the desired effect cannot be guaranteed.
200gm (7 oz) ground pure almonds
100gm (7 oz) sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) water
150gm (5 oz) icing sugar
1 heaped tablespoon cocoa-powder or the juice of one lemon
half a small chocolate Easter egg wrapped in coloured foil
Mix the margarine and the flour. Separately mix the eggs, sugar and the lemon rind. Put both mixtures together to form dough.
Leave the dough to rest.
Place the sugar and water in a pan and heat till the sugar melts. When it boils remove it from the heat.
Add the almonds, stir in the mixture and allow to cool.
Roll out the pastry.
Cut out the shapes (four) - you will need two identical shapes for each figolla. On a baking sheet lightly dusted with flour place the first shape.
Place a layer of almond mixture and on top place the other shape. Bake in an oven for 25-30 minutes. Afterwards let it cool on a cooling rack.
Sieve the icing sugar and the cocoa-powder together. Add a tablespoon of warm water with a tablespoon of margarine. Add to the mixture of icing sugar and cocoa-powder. Add some Benedictine for flavour. Spread this icing with a palette knife.
Decorate with the wrapped easter egg, silver or coloured balls or with coloured icing.