When we decided to go to Malta last winter I didn’t know what to expect… the history of the island is so much different than this of the neighboring places such as Sicily and Greece… I imagined that the landscapes and the culture would overwhelmed me with beauty and mystery but I didn’t expect that the Maltese food would have such a strong impact on me and on my cooking. More than the food in general it’s been breads, pastries and sweets that completely bewitched me. The mix of spices: clove and cinnamon more than any, the citrus fruits, the almonds, pistachios and hazelnuts, the dates, figs and honey… well I am still under the charm and cloves have made their way back to my pantry. When we were in Valetta our friends had in mind to test many of the pastizzi, so we stopped at several place to taste some and ended up rather full, but the kids didn’t seem that full, or the adults eat all the pastizzi and left nothing to them… ??? and so when after hours of walking up and down the city we stopped at caffe Cordina, they ordered some sweets. A. ordered Kwarezimal. At first I wasn’t much interested in them but after a pause my appetite was back and when she offered me to try I couldn’t resist. The small pastries attracted me, with the crushed nuts topping and the promise of a taste of honey. And yes, as soon as I had a piece in my mouth, there was something else on my to-do list of things to bake when back home. The one thing special at caffe Cordina is that their Kwarezimal is made from hazelnut powder and all the recipes I found afterwards were made with almond powder. The good point for me, it’s that it is a lot easier to find almond powder than hazelnut powder in Tokyo, the bad point is that the Kwarezimal I made didn’t match my experience at caffe Cordina, but it’s a good reason to try again with hazelnut powder, would I find some!
None the less the almond base treat was truly delicious. I used a combination of recipes I found on the internet to make my Kwarezimal and I was very happy with the results. Having eaten Kwarezimal only once in my life I cannot claim that they were true to the Maltese taste, but at least taste wise and texture wise it was delicious. So let me share my recipe here, because not only it is delicious but it is super simple to make and vegan: no butter, no egg and no yeast or baking powder… I think it could easily become an energy bar for active days!
Kwarezimal (makes 8 pieces)
– 150g of almond powder (or hazelnut powder)
– 100g of flour
– 60g of brown sugar
– 1tsp of orange blossom flower
– 1tsp of cocoa powder
– 1tsp of cinnamon
– 1tsp of clove
– 1/2tsp of cardamom
– the zest of half an orange or any other citrus fruit
For the topping:
– a handful of crushed pistachio
– some zest of citrus fruit
– 3tsp of honey
Pre-heat the oven to 180 while mixing all the ingredients (but those for the topping) together. Add a bit of water if needed until you obtain a very dense and not too sticky though. Cut in 8 and make oblong shapes slightly flatten on top (easier for the topping!). Set on cooking paper in the oven for 20minutes. As soon as out of the oven, spread the honey on top of each Kwarezimal, sprinkle the crushed nuts and zest. Let cool down before enjoying (it’s hard to wait, it smells so good!!!!!).