‘Making figolli [two cookie layers with a soft marzipan filling] is a good childhood memory if you were brought up in Malta and making them every Easter is a tradition for most Maltese families, even for those who usually do not make cakes and sweets.
The taste of this ‘healthy’ version is of course not identical to the traditional figolli but it is a healthier option for those who still wish to celebrate, share and preserve memories of our traditions.
The pure ground almonds and citrus zest are combined with alternative ingredients making this version more diabetic friendly and they suit most dietary requirements. The dark chocolate topping to replace the sugar icing is not only healthier but an amazing combination with the mixed citrus zest and almonds.’
‘Life is not how you live it but how you remember it’ (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
‘Using almond butter makes a delicious pastry and simply rubbing it into the flour in the same way as is done with normal butter achieves a great result. Linseed is used to substitute eggs and lots of citrus zest is a must when making figolli.
The almond filling is simple to make, literally just combining all the ingredients together and adding a small amount of pure almond butter further enhances the flavours
‘Rolling out the pastry cannot be easier. As my figolli are on the smaller size and as I imagine they would appeal to those looking for a healthier version, I rolled the pastry out to be as thin as possible. The aroma of citrus has already filled the kitchen at this stage and I use unwaxed Maltese oranges, lemons and tangerines, making the most of all that wonderful fruit as we approach the end of citrus season
Mini eggs are easy to make with Novi chocolate and a good silicone mould. The chocolate can be melted in the microwave or in a bain marie and I used a knife to smooth out the surface while the chocolate was still melted.
You will need:
For the cookie dough 500g gluten free flour 2 tablespoons cornflour 250g Almond butter [I use Pip & Nut] 1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder pinch of salt 1/2 cup stevia vanilla citrus zest [1 orange, 1 lemon, 1 lime] a pinch of mixed spice 4 tablespoons linseed ground in 12 tablespoons water For the filling: 500g ground almonds 4 tablespoons crunchy almond butter [I use Pip & Nut] 1 cup stevia vanilla citrus zest [orange, lemon, lime] vanilla pinch of salt 3 tablespoons linseed ground in 9 tablespoons water Prepare the cookie dough by sifting the flour twice Add the almond butter and rub in using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the baking powder, cornflour, stevia, salt, vanilla, mixed spice and citrus zest and mix until the consistency is even. Then add the linseed that has been ground in water and bring the dough together. If necessary add some more water, a spoonful at a time to make the dough pliable. Wrap in stretch and sea and place in the fridge for at least an hour. In the meantime prepare the filling Place all the filling ingredients into a large bowl and mix with a large metal spoon. Then use your hands to bring the mixture together to form a soft marzipan type dough. if necessary add water, a spoonful at a time to bring it to the right consistency. Assembling the figolli Start by rolling out the pastry dough and to stick to the the healthy version idea, roll it to a thickness of not more than 1/2 cm. Use a cookie cutter to cut out 2 shapes per figolla. Prepare a baking dish with baking paper and spray it with a baking spray. Place some filling in the centre. The amount depends on how large your figollas are. Bruch the edges of the figolla shapes with water and cover the top of each figolla with the second shape. Place on the prepared dish and bake in a preheated oven for around 30 to 40 minutes depending on the size of the figolli Do not allow them to brown. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool completely before removing them from the tray. Follow the instructions on how to melt the chocolate and dip each figolla into the melted chocolate to cover the top. Decorate with mini easter eggs or make your own by pouring the extra melted chocolate into a mini egg silicone mould. Allow to cool down and pop them out of the mould. Dip into melted chocolate and place on top of each figolla.
Novibloc gluten free chocolate and Pip and Nut Almond butter are available at M & Z (Marketing) Ltd
‘Melting Novibloc dark chocolate is easy. You can use the microwave or a more traditional bain marie and it also works very well on direct low heat. Some tips to watch out for when melting chocolate is to stir it continuously while it melts and if for some reason any water splashes into the main bowl, add 1/4 teaspoon of sunflower oil.’