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Prinjolata - Maltese Carnival Dessert

Prinjolata is a traditional Maltese Carnival dessert. A huge dome shaped no bake cake made from a mixture of biscuits, cake, nuts and buttercream covered with Italian meringue and other toppings! 
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time1 hour
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: European, Maltese, Mediterranean
Keyword: Carnival, No bake
Servings: 1


Sponge Cake*

  • 125 g butter
  • 125 g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 ml milk
  • 175 g  self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp  salt


  • 250 g  plain flour
  • 100 g icing sugar 
  • 125  g butter cubed
  • 1 egg
  • lemon peel


  • 200 g sponge cake
  • 200 g biscuits
  • 100 g pine nuts roasted + extra for decorating
  • 50 g hazelnuts roasted
  • 50 g almonds roasted
  • 50 g candied cherries extra for decorating


  • 50 g dark chocolate melted
  • almond flakes


  • 125 g butter room temperature
  • 200 g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp amaretto or whisky

Italian Meringue

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 170 g sugar
  • 90 ml water


Sponge Cake*

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F. Line a square or rectangular tin with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a bowl mix together the self-raising flour and salt. In a mixer or in a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugar together until you get a pale colour.

  • Add the eggs to the mixture and mix well. Gently add the flour and the vanilla extract. Mix well until combined.
  • Lastly pour in the milk and mix until it’s incorporated. Don’t over mix the batter. Pour the batter into the tin and tap on the bench to remove any bubbles formed in the mixture. Bake the sponge for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Once baked, let the sponge cool in the tin before transferring to a cooling rack. Let the cake cool completely.

Plain Biscuits*

  • In a large bowl mix the flour and the cubed butter to a crumbly mixture. Work with your fingertips so that you don't melt the butter. Add the icing sugar and the lemon peel and combine well. Form a well with the ingredients, put the egg in the middle and start mixing.
  • Knead the dough briefly until all the ingredients are incorporated and a smooth dough is formed. Wrap in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180°C or 350°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Roll out the dough into a cylinder and cut discs. Transfer to the baking tray, leaving some space between one another, and bake for 15 minutes, until they turn slightly golden brown at the edges. Leave to cool at room temperature on a cooling rack.

Butter cream

  • In a mixer whip together the butter and the icing sugar. Once incorporated, add the vanilla extract and the liquor. Whip everything together for about 5 minutes until the yellow colour of the butter gets paler and the mixture is creamy. Cover the buttercream and set aside.

Forming the Prinjolata

  • Roast the nuts until fragrant. Set aside and let them cool completely.
  • In a large bowl combine together the crumbled sponge cake, crushed biscuits, roasted nuts, candied cherries and buttercream. With your hands mix everything well together until it gets sticky. Place the mixture in a bowl or form a dome on a plate. Cover with cling film and let it rest in the fridge overnight.

Italian Meringue

  • In a saucepan place the sugar and the water over medium heat. Mix the mixture together until it starts to simmer. Once it does so, stop stirring and clean the sides of the saucepan if any crystals are visible. **
  • Let the mixture cook. Once it reaches 110°C/230°F on the thermometer, start whipping together the egg whites and lemon juice on medium speed. They should start to froth and foam.
  • As soon as the sugar mixture reaches 115°C/240°F, remove the saucepan from the heat. Start drizzling in the sugar mixture gently on the side of the stand mixer while it continues to whip the eggs on high speed. Let the mixture whip for about 8 minutes until stiff peaks. Use immediately to cover the Prinjolata.


  • Decorate the prinjolata with a generous layer of Italian meringue. Don’t worry if it looks messy. We don’t need it to look perfect and smooth. Top the meringue with halved candied cherries, roasted pine nuts and almonds. Drizzle everything with melted dark chocolate. Let the chocolate set and serve!


*You can also use store bought/ready made sponge cake and biscuits. Hence skip these steps. 
**To clean the crystals from the sides use a pastry brush dipped in cool water.