Marzipan-Filled Easter Pastries (Maltese Figolli)

 
Yield: ~15 medium-sized filled pastries (2 shapes per pastry)

Ingredients

For the pastry:

400 grams (1.75 cups) unsalted butter, cool

800 grams (6.25 cups) all-purpose flour, sifted

350 grams (1.75 cups) sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 egg yolks

zest from 1 lemon

Water to bind

For the filling:

500 grams (4 cups) icing sugar

500 grams (6.75 cups) ground almonds

3 egg whites

1 tablespoon orange blossom water (I used Nielsen-Massey Orange Blossom Water) *see notes

You will also need:

Royal Icing for decorating (see notes)

Small Easter eggs for decorating (foil or unwrapped chocolate eggs)

Method

For the pastry:

1. Sift flour into a large mixing bowl and rub in the butter to a cornmeal consistency, or pulse in a food processor.

2. Add the sugar and lemon zest and mix or pulse again. Mix in the egg yolks and enough water to make a stiff but pliable dough.

3. Separate dough into 2 balls, wrap in plastic and press down gently so you have 2 discs of dough. Chill for 45 minutes.

For the filling:

1. While the dough is chilling, make your filling. Mix the ground almonds and icing sugar (or ready made marzipan), then add the egg whites and orange blossom water, mixing until incorporated.

Assembling & baking:

1. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

2. Remove one disc of dough from the refrigerator and remove plastic wrap. Place on top of a large piece of parchment paper (I use a silicone rolling mat underneath to ensure it doesn’t slip while rolling, but you can even dampen counter so the parchment sticks a bit) and then place another sheet of parchment paper on top. You can also roll dough on a lightly floured surface (I just find this parchment method the most reliable).

3. Roll dough (this will require a bit of elbow grease for the first few minutes until it softens up a bit) until it is about 1/8" thick.

4. Preheat your oven to 350 F. While the oven is preheating, slide your parchment paper and dough onto a board, then place in refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Repeat with your second disc of dough.

5. Remove from fridge, and cut your shapes using the cutters of your choice--you will need 2 identical pieces for each figolla. Place each shape on the lined baking sheet and spread a thick layer of the filling, leaving a 3/4" edge untouched, then cover each shape with its match, gently pressing down the edges to seal.

6. Place the baking sheets of figolli in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking. Then bake until edges are light golden brown, about 15-18 minutes (this varies).

7. Let cool on baking sheets on wire racks, then decorate each pastry with royal icing and don't forget the easter egg!

For the decorating:

For very specific info on decorating cookies with royal icing, I've included some links below. I've also linked to a recipe for royal icing from Callye from Sweet Sugar Belle. To learn more about outlining and flooding cookies with royal icing, check out this post (again, from Callye).

1. With royal icing in a piping bag fitted with a small round tip (I used #3), outline the shape of the cookie (I do about 5 at a time). Let sit for a few minutes. *Cover the tip of the piping bag with a damp cloth when not using.

2. Fill (aka flood) the cookie with the flood-consistency royal icing (same piping bag), gently pulling any open spots to the outline using a toothpick.

3. Let sit for about a minute, and then place your chocolate or foil-covered egg directly onto the cookie (foil eggs stick beautifully and pop right off when you're ready to take them off the cookie to eat).

4. Decorate the cookies any way you like. I added sprinkles for bunny eyes and noses (when the icing has set for a few moments), and then piped a small pink bow using pink royal icing and tip #2. After cookies have set for about an hour, you can add a bunny tail with stiff peak royal icing and a small open star tip. Let decorated pastries sit overnight before wrapping or packaging.

Sweetapolita's Notes:

  • Orange Blossom Water is commonly used in Mediterranean (and more) desserts, Middle Eastern cooking and more. If you can't find it, you can substitute it with orange zest or any of these options. You can find it in my shop or Middle Eastern grocers, and more.
  • You can use ready-made marzipan for the filling and simply add the egg whites and orange blossom water.
  • For the royal icing, I have tried many recipes for cookie decorating, but for these I used the version I use most often, which is one I learned at Bonnie Gordon College years ago. Because there is so much mixed emotion among cookie decorators about not only recipes, but method, I'm going to send you over to Callye for this Royal Icing recipe and info because her recipe is very similar to the one I've always used, and she gets into serious detail. The girl decorates cookies (the most gorgeous cookies) 24 hours a day, I'm convinced. Maybe more. I actually don't know how she finds a way to even blog about them, but we're sure happy she does.
  • To learn more about decorating cookies with royal icing, check out some of these other amazing cookie goddesses: Bridget, Gail, Glory, and Marian.
  • You certainly don't need to create perfect royal icing designs to make and enjoy these cookies--adding a nice layer of the royal icing and even sprinkles are perfect. Just don't forget to add the egg!
 
 
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