Għadam tal-Mejtin, Maltese Almond Cookies

Għadam tal-Mejtin, which literally translates to “dead men’s bones”, can sound a bit creepy. But never mind the name… they are absolutely delicious almond cookies. The name comes from the shape of the cookies, which are prepared in the form of a bone.

These traditional Maltese cookies are prepared in the beginning of November, in celebration of All Saints & All Souls Days. They are enjoyed throughout the month, which is dedicated to loved ones who have passed away. The Italians also have their own cookies for this time, known as Ossi Dei Morti as well as the Spaniards, Huesos de Santo. Although all of them incorporate almonds, they vary from one another. There’s only one thing in common… they are all delicious! 😀

The għadam are only available during this time of the year, because of their shape and association. However, their recipe is traditionally identical to the recipe of the Figolli, the traditional Maltese Easter cookies . For my figolli, I normally use a sweet pastry with no eggs, which results in a more buttery and crumbly pastry. This may not be ideal for the għadam, since you need to roll the pastry around the filling; a mixture of pure ground almonds, egg whites, sugar, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla and almond flavourings. Similarly to figolli, the għadam are decorated with icing or melted chocolate and sometimes you can also find them with chopped almonds on top. However, traditionally it was just white icing to resemble more the actual bones.

This year is the first time I made these almond cookies although usually I get them ready made. However, I am sure this will not be the last time 😀 I hope you too give these oddly-named cookies a go!

Għadam tal-Mejtin - Maltese Almond Cookies

  • Servings: 8 large bones
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Traditional Maltese cookies filled with almonds found during the month of November


    For the pastry:
  • 400g plain flour
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 3 egg yolks
  • For the filling:
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 tsp almond essence
  • For decorating:
  • 250g dark chocolate, melted
  • 100g almonds, roughly chopped


  1. In a large bowl, sift the flour and set it aside.
  2. Using a stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter together and light and fluffy. Add the lemon and orange zest and combine.
  3. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating in between.
  4. Gradually add the flour to the butter-sugar-egg mixture and beat until a dough forms.
  5. Form the dough into a ball and put it in the fridge to rest for at least an hour.
  6. For the filling: In a large bowl, combine the almonds, icing sugar, lemon zest and orange zest. Set aside.
  7. Beat the egg whites together with the vanilla and almond essence until you get soft peaks. Fold in into the almond mixture until all ingredients are well combined together and has the consistency of a paste. Let it rest in the fridge for at least 45 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a baking tray with a baking paper.
  9. Dust the work surface with flour and roll out the pastry into 20cm x 10cm rectangles. Using your hands, roll the almond filling into a log form and place it in the centre of the rectangle.
  10. Wrap the pastry around the filling, sealing the edges and shape it into a bone.
  11. Place the prepared bones on the prepared baking tray.
  12. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Place on a cooling rack to cool completely before decorating.
  13. Decorate with melted chocolate and immediately sprinkle the chopped almonds on top.

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