With the run-up to Easter, my aunt asked whether or not I’d be making traditional Maltese Lent biscuits, called Kwareżimal.  And what a brilliant idea that was because I absolutely LOVE kwareżimal and I think I’ve managed to convert a few others since I made these.
The word ‘kwareżimal’ is derived from the latin word quaresima referring to the 40 days of Lent. It reminds me very much of childhood as it was pretty much the only sweet treat I was allowed to have during the fasting period. As kids, we were asked to make a ‘sacrifice’ and in my case, it was to give up chocolate. On the plus side, I really did like kwareżimal, so it could have been worse.
These Lenten biscuits are almond based, with aromatic spices and even cocoa powder. It is also dairy free although there are versions that use eggs. These biscuits are topped with Maltese honey or thyme honey and sprinkled with nuts.

Makes: 8 Kwareżimal

Time: 45 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

***I N G R E D I E N T S***

  • 200 gr ground almond
  • 200 gr plain flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 100 gr caster sugar
  • Juice of an orange plus approx 50 ml water
  • 1 mandarin, zest
  • 1 orange, zest
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • 1tsp orange blossom water
  • 2 – 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp crushed pistachios
  • 1 tbsp ground hazelnuts
  • 1 tbsp desiccated coconut (optional)
***M E T H O D***
  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C/ 355 °F
  2. In a bowl mix together ground almond, flour, cinnamon, clove, sugar, zest of 1 orange, 1 mandarin and 1 lemon
  3. Add 120ml of water, orange juice and orange blossom water and mix
  4. Knead into a stiff dough, add more water if too dry but just one tsp at a time
  5. Take small pieces of dough and form the dough into balls and then form rectangular shapes
  6. Bake for 20 min or until slightly brown, not too long as they get very dry quickly
  7. In a small bowl combine crushed pistachio, ground almonds and the desiccated coconut
  8. While still warm, spread syrup on top of the biscuits and top the biscuits with the nut mixture.