Easter in Malta just isn't complete without a figolla - often gifted by a beloved family member.
Figolla (plural figolli) is a Maltese soft biscuit filled with marzipan (an almond mixture). Many of the Maltese make their own to give to others in Easter time, and not just for the children! Traditionally, on Easter Sunday, the children accompany the Easter processions, carrying their figolla with them to be blessed.
A little history
The earliest figolli - traced back to thousands of years ago - were rooted in paganism. They were made of sweet pastry and decorated with dyed eggs, probably symbols of fertility. The eggs were coloured with dye made from onion skin, vegetables and fruit to obtain a bright peacock palette; blue, green, red, yellow, and brown.
The pastries quickly gained popularity when almond filling was added between two similar shapes of pastry and embellished with icing or a chocolate coating. Typical biscuit shapes were common Christian symbols, such as lamb, fish or crosses. Nowadays, shapes vary, including symbols reminiscent of Easter and spring; eggs, butterflies, rabbits, hearts, and doves, to name a few. A half chocolate egg wrapped in colourful foil paper is placed on the top of the large pastry to further add to its attraction.
A must-try for anyone visiting the islands, figolli are readily available around Easter time at supermarkets, bakeries, confectionaries, and other food shops.