Għadam tal-Mejtin are flavourful bone-shaped shortcrust biscuits with an almond filling. They are a traditional Maltese treat for All Souls day.
Traditionally in Malta we don’t celebrate Halloween, although in the last years this holiday has been growing in popularity. However, All Saints Day and All Souls Day are two important dates which also mark the first school holidays of the year. These days mark the start of November which for the Maltese is a month to honour their deceased. As per tradition, these bone-shaped biscuits are made during this period to remember and honour them. Nowadays, the tradition has mostly changed and people might consider these Għadam tal-Mejtin as just a scrumptious treat found all over the country in the months of October and November. This tradition is found in several other countries such as the Spanish equivalent, heusos de Santo and the Italian, ossa dei morti.
The Għadam tal-Mejtin recipe is identical to the Figolli recipe, which are made for Easter, although in this case they are bone-shaped. As with figolli, this recipe might vary from each family but in essence they’re all the same. Basically, they’re a reconstruction of a bone and its marrow. They consist of a rich almond filling sandwich between two thick shortcrust biscuits, covered with a thick white royal icing. Optionally, you can also sprinkle some chopped almonds on top.
As previously mentioned, these bone-shaped biscuits have the same recipe as the Spring’s Easter treat. To make it slightly different and more autumn flavoured, I personally alter slightly my own recipe. One of the main difference is, that I make it less citrusy by flavouring with just lemons instead of using both lemons and oranges. Another significant change I make is that I add some cloves to the almond mixture. The cloves flavours gives the almond filling a stronger and pungent taste, which personally I find that it fits perfectly for this season.
Shaping the bones
To give these biscuits their characteristic bone shape, one can use several methods. The easiest one might be to actually use bone cutters. I personally have these and they really make the job quite fast. Another option could be to print a bone shape and use it to trace and cut your dough. Or else, you can also roll a piece of dough after placing the almond filling in its middle, making sure to cover the filling completely with the dough, giving it a log shape, and finally do an indent on each short side using your fingers.
Traditionally, and also in my recipe here, these bone-shaped biscuits are covered with royal icing, however if you’re not a fan of royal icing, you can easily leave them plain without covering them, or else, you can either dust some icing sugar, or cover them with some melted white chocolate. On top of the royal icing I have also added some chopped almonds.
Għadam tal-Mejtin (Maltese Bone Biscuits)
- 370 g plain flour 3 cups
- 150 g cold butter 2/3 cup
- 100 g caster sugar 1/2 cup
- zest of one lemon
- 60 ml water
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 200 g ground almonds 2 cups
- 200 g icing sugar 2 cups
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 tsp almond essence
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 60 g icing sugar 1 cup
- 1 tbsp water
- crushed almonds
Preparation of the dough and almond filling
- In a large bowl mix the flour and the cubed butter to a crumbly mixture. Add all the remaining ingredients except the water, and mix well. Slowly start adding the water and combine until a smooth soft dough is formed. Wrap in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for an hour.
- For the almond filling, add all the ingredients together and mix well to get a paste. Do the same as before, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for an hour.
Baking the Bone Biscuits
- Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it's 2 cm thick (do not go thinner than 1 cm). With a bone shaped cutter, cut the dough and place them on the sheet of parchment paper, leaving some space between one another.
- Place a generous layer of the almond filling on the dough. Cover the almond filling with another piece of bone shaped dough and seal well the sides.
- Bake the biscuits for about 30 minutes or until lightly golden.
- When the biscuits are cooked, first let them rest on the baking tray before moving them to a cooling rack as this may cause them to break. After some minutes, transfer to a cooling rack to let them completely cool. It is best to let them rest for a while.
- For the glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the icing sugar with 1 tbsp of water. Dip the bone biscuit in the glaze and place them on the cooling rack, for the extra glaze to drip off. Drizzle some crushed almonds before the glaze starts to set.
- Let set completely and enjoy!
If you have any questions, feedback or comments on this recipe, please leave a comment below. Please also rate this recipe by double clicking on the stars below. If you did make this recipe, tag @apronandwhisk and hashtag #apronandwhisk, as I’m curious to see what you create!
Don’t forget to subscribe to the mailing list down below so to received the recipe updates straight to your mailbox!