Recipe: Marzipan Easter Cookies from Malta (Figolla)

Each week, when I sit down to pick recipes, I am surrounded by a mountain of cookbooks, web sites, and emails (this week I’d like to thank Maltese reader, Jym B. for all his help).  I scan through dozens, if not hundreds of ideas before settling on my selections.

Not today. Not with this recipe.

I ran across Figolla almost immediately and knew, without a doubt, this sweet treat was a keeper. Reader, Jym, simply confirmed my selection, stating it is a “wonderful” cookie from his Maltese heritage.

So what is it?

Figolla is Malta’s popular Easter cookie – two lemon infused sugar cookies surrounding a soft, almond paste center. The cookie is decorated for Easter with frosting and a chocolate egg (which is sometimes left in the foil wrapper – a sparkling nugget of goodness).

Pretty much amazing, if you ask me.

Especially considering daydreamy stovetop travel will take you here to eat it…

View of the Senglea watchtower at sunset and Valetta, Malta. Photos by Myriam Thyes.

Makes just over 2 lbs of dough. Quantity of cookies depends on how big your cookie cutters are! This recipe yields enough dough for any global potluck.

Ingredients:

4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup cool butter, cubed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested and juiced

Filling:

7 oz  almond paste, room temperature
4-5 Tbsp orange juice
orange zest, optional

Top with icing and small chocolate eggs, as desired.

NOTE: I used Royal Icing (here’s a great tutorial on how to make it) – the recipe was from the back of the meringue powder can from Micael’s (1 lb powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons meringue powder, water, as needed).

Method:

Let’s get some sunshine into our lives. Let’s shake off winter. It’s really simple – we just need a golden lemon and …

… a beautiful view (perhaps one that looks back at you).

Senglea, Gardjola watchtower, with view on Valletta. Photo by Myriam Thyes

Now, in this beautiful place, let’s create a bowl of sunshine: add the flour, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon zest to the bowl of standing mixer. Combine on lowest speed to form a happy, crumbly mass. Scrape sides. 

Increase the mixer’s speed and stream in the golden lemon juice, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough can be pressed together with the hands, just like sugar cookie dough. (I used 3 tbsp of lemon juice – you may need more or less). It shouldn’t be sticky, nor should it be crumbly.

For extra deliciousness, I highly recommend shaping the dough into a heart. Chill 30 minutes.

Meawhile, mix the almond paste with fresh orange juice and a bit of zest (for extra oomph, if desired) until a smooth, loose paste forms. You can mash it together with your fingers or smoosh it around with a spatula… it gets easier as you go along.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Roll out the dough and cut out two of each shape. Nothing says spring like butterflies, eggs, and flowers.

Add some filling to half the cookies, leaving a lip around the edge.

Dab a bit of water along that edge and place second cookie on top. Press together all around the edges to seal. For best results, place cookie sheet in freezer for about 15 minutes to flash-chill the cookie again (this will keep them from spreading too much).

Bake at 350F for 10-20 minutes (depending on thickness and shape). Remove from oven when they just barely begin to turn golden on the edge (not brown – some of mine are a bit overdone). Try not to gobble them all up right away.

Let cool and then frost. I like to do a layer of white “flooded” icing, let it set and then decorate on top with colored icing.

Just be sure not to squeeze the icing too hard, lest the bag burst… take it from me:

Since I’m clearly not a pro at piping, I just did stars and dots. 

And, to make your cookies totally Maltese, be sure to finish them off with a chocolate egg.

Maybe all the frosting splatters distract from my white hair? Or maybe not…

And now, I feel I should warn you.

These cookies are irresistible. Especially to little cookie monsters. See Ava’s look of determination as she carefully calculates how to get this blue egg out of my hand?
Of course, the sweet girl claimed she only wanted to share it with her papa. Amazingly, she wasn’t lying. She waited a whole day to share it with him. That’s patience for a 2 1/2 year old.

P.S. If you can stand waiting, try these cookies the day after making them (just keep in an airtight container). They’ll soften up just a bit.

P.P.S. Enjoy somewhere incredible. Even if you just have to shut your eyes for a while in order to get there (perhaps while sitting in your favorite chair).

Valletta, Malta. Photos by Myriam Thymes.

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Comments

  1. Fantastic….

  2. I love that those cookies are filled with marzipan! What an awesome surprise inside.

  3. Amazing cookies! The first photo is sooo beautiful!

    I am in awe of your patience and skill to make these…

  4. These pics are even more beautiful than usual. You have inspired me again! Thank you for your perseverance and fabulous journey. Love it.

  5. aunty eileen says:

    Simply beautiful and what fun it must have been to make these… I wonder what they taste like….

  6. Jym Brittain says:

    Sasha, you did an amazing job of capturing the yummy goodness. I was very happy to help!

  7. These look so delicious and pretty too. I love anything with marzipan in so I´ll definitely be trying these out some time! Particularly as I have some marzipan that needs using up!

  8. Not an expert? Your decorating skills look pretty good to me. Love the picture of you with icing sprayed on your face, the one of Ava calculating and the one of her sharing. Adorable.

  9. dutchgirl says:

    These cookies are a lot like our “gevulde koeken” (filled cookies). These are large cookies filled with almond paste. In The Netherlands they are quite well-known and you can buy them at the local baker or make them yourself. These are one of my favorite types of cookies.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      How cool! Neat to know they are enjoyed so far up north. I wonder how many other countries enjoy something similar…

  10. YUM ! we are marzipan lovers in our family, so these will definitely be done for Easter !!!
    Hope they will look as good as yours.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Fantastic – you should have a decorating party the day after you bake them that way you only have that one thing to focus on :) I love doing that (with gingerbread men, too).

  11. Whoa, these sound amazing! I’m pretty sure my sister, niece, and I need to make these for Easter instead of plain ol’ sugar cookies. Love how you decorated them!

  12. Reggiesue says:

    was searching for recipes with marzipan and up came this wonder! I am going to make the cakes this Easter, they look really really nice! But first I’ll browse your site…

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