This recipe reminds me of home and the beautiful smells that would fill our house while baking these cookies. The orange blossom water smell also reminds me of Spring, which happens to be round the corner. 🙂
Kwareżimal refers to the forty days of Lent, during which traditionally in Malta most animal products were avoided. In fact, this recipe does not contain any butter/fat or eggs.
They are still very popular nowadays as a tea time treat and you would find them ready made in every grocery store and supermarket around the Maltese Islands. Unfortunately, it is very rare to find them in shops during any other time of the year.
These cookies are very easy to make and they are on the healthier side, when compared to other cookies.
A Maltese recipe for traditional Lenten cookies
- 250ml fresh orange juice
- 2 tbsp orange blossom water
- Rind from 1 lemon
- Rind from 1 orange
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 2 tbsp anisette liqueur (optional)
- 250g sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 500g ground almonds
- 300g plain flour
- Honey*, to drizzle
- 100g almonds, crushed
- In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, which includes ground almonds, flour, sugar, spices, cocoa powder and the rinds.
- Make a well in the centre and pour the orange blossom water, almond extract, liqueur and fresh orange juice. Combine all ingredients together and knead gently to form a soft dough. Let it chill for 15 minutes.
- Take small pieces from the dough to shape the kwareżimal into an oblong roughly 8cm long by 3cm wide and 1cm thick. Place them on a baking paper or rice paper. Using a knife, make a criss cross slash over each cookie.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 150 degrees Celsius for 17-20 minutes.
- Let them cool slightly on the baking sheet. Cover each cookie with honey and sprinkle with crushed almonds. Place them on a rack to cool completely.