Kwareżimal is a traditional Maltese Lenten sweet. An easy to make almond biscuit with a spiced and citrusy aroma, perfect for teatime!
There is nothing not to love about Kwareżimal! To begin with, they are super simple to make. They have a slightly crisp exterior and a soft and chewy centre. A distinguished almond taste together with a spiced citrusy aftertaste fills each bite. They are the ultimate Maltese biscuit!
During these past years I was on a mission to perfect my ideal Kwareżimal recipe. I wanted to recreate the same taste and texture to the ones I used to get back home. Finally, after some experiments, I can say that I achieved it! I am pretty proud of how this recipe turned out. As a matter of fact, this year at the beginning of lent I made them, as traditionally done in Malta, and my friends and family appreciated them so much that they didn’t last long!
What is Kwareżimal?
Traditionally, the Maltese prepare and eat Kwareżimal throughout Lent. Hence the name, which is derived from the Italian word Quaresima, the forty days of Lent. These days, one of the recurring discussions is whether Kwareżimal should be eaten during Lent or not. The classic recipe calls for sugar, which is one of the ingredients the majority of Catholics who do the forty days of Lent usually renounce. However, Kwareżimal originated during the period when the Knights of Malta were on the island. At the time, sugar was considered to be a spice and wasn’t a type of food one should abstain from. During this time of penance, people were obliged to abstain from meat and its derivatives like dairy products and eggs, not sugar.
Traditionally, Kwareżimal is oblong shaped about 14 cm long – as I am making them in this recipe. However, Kwareżimal can take be a bigger or smaller size, even bite sized.
Make them Vegan or Sugar free!
To make Kwareżimal vegan, all you have to do is simply substitute the honey with maple or agave syrup, as the base of the recipe doesn’t contain any animal protein, eggs or diary products. Furthermore, these biscuits can be free of processed sugars. Easily swap the caster sugar with stevia, honey, maple or agave syrup. Although be careful, if using syrups, as you have to put only 3/4 of the amount so that your mixture doesn’t get too runny. For example, for the recipe below, substitute 100g of caster sugar with 75g honey.
For the Kwareżimal
- 400 g self-raising flour (3 1/4 cups)
- 400 g ground almonds (4 cups)
- 100 g caster sugar (1/2 cup)
- 30 ml olive oil (2 tbsp)
- 30 ml orange flower water (2 tbsp)
- 50 g orange candied peel diced (2/3 cup)
- 15 g cocoa powder (2 tbsp)
- 2 g ground cinnamon (1 tsp)
- 2 g mixed spice (1 tsp)
- 1 lemon zest
- 1 orange zest + juice of 1/2 an orange
- 120 ml water (1/2 cup)
For the toppings
- Chopped almonds (other nuts)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and sprinkle some flour on top. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl sift the flour and combine with the olive oil and the orange flower water. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the water.
- Start adding the water slowly as the dough might need less than mentioned. Knead into a sticky dough, which is the consistency we are looking for.
- Slightly flour your hands and start shaping the dough into long oblongs of about 14 cm. Place on a baking tray, and leave some space between them. With a knife make some crossing lines.
- Bake for 20 minutes exactly. It's important to not overcook the biscuit.
- While they are still hot, brush with honey and press on the chopped nuts.
- Let them cool and enjoy with your favourite cup of hot beverage!
- To make them vegan, substitute the honey with maple syrup or agave syrup.
- For a sugar free version swap the sugar with stevia, honey, maple or agave syrup. Although be careful, if using syrups, as you have to put only 3/4 of the amount so that your mixture doesn’t get too runny. For example, for the recipe below, substitute 100g of caster sugar with 75g honey.
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!
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