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Kwarezimal March 17, 2010

Posted by sunflower71 in Uncategorized.
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Traditionally in my country Malta, Lent, the 40 days before Easter Sunday is a time when people try to make some sort of sacrifice usually related to the food they consume, so typically children are encouraged to give up sweets for the whole of the 40 days (which for some excludes Sunday) or not eating meat on Friday (vegetarians and vegans did not exist when all this started). Today,  I don’t know how many still bother or care or take the trouble or take this in its original context (most use the excuse to loose weight), ie that of making some sort of sacrifice with a sense of reparation for sins committed or in preparation for Easter Sunday, but the alternative to eating sweets, ie the baking of kwarezimal is popular again.

I think the word Kwarezimal comes from Italian quarezima (lent) and quaranta (40).

In reality I don’t know how, in olden days, when there were hardly any sweets to speak of they found this to be an alternative to sweets.  I think this was just an excues to make this delicacy.  Also I’m not sure if traditionally they would have used pure ground almonds and glace cherries as I’m not sure how readily available they were or who could really afford them, but anyway here it is.

This is not my recipe.  It is Peter Dacoutros’ recipe.  He gave it on TV in his weekly programme Aroma Kitchen.  I think this is the best cooking programme on the local stations. (Pity its aired on One…but such is life!) Mind you I don’t watch it every week but I like it – the team – Peter, Aaron and Manuel look and sound like they are genuinely having fun producing the programme, love good food and would like every one to know how to produce perfect grub every time.  They give hints and tips on how to know if you’re doing things well and how to prevent certain disasters in the kitchen.  Last year, at about this time, I came upon this programme by chance as Peter was doing his kwarezimal.  I tried it and for me its is the best I’ve ever tasted …

Here is the recipe (makes 10):

400gr plain flour

1 (a bit more than level) tbsp baking powder

300 gr sugar

200 gr pure ground almonds

4 drops almond essence

100 grams glace cherries, chopped (I chopped them very very finely)

2 tbsp golden syrup

2 tsp mixed spice

half tsp ground cloves

2 tbsp orange-flower water

grated rind of 1 orange (local)

grated rind of 1 lemon (local)

1 heaped tbsp cocoa powder

around 3 tbsp water

For coating:

1 tin golden syrup (I used far less)

250 gr blanched almonds roasted and chopped (once I sued chopped pistachios… they looked nicer)  


Grease 2 baking trays and dust with flour.

Sift flour, baking powder and cocoa into a bowl. Add sugar, ground almonds, spices, cherries and rinds, and mix well. Add the orange flower water, almond essence and golden syrup and mix.  Slowly add the water to obtain a mixture that is neither too soft nor to dry. You might not need all 3 tbsp.  Best keep the mixture on the dry side. Now divide the mixture into 10 parts.  With wet hands form each part into a sausage and flatten them down sightly on the baking trays. Allow enough space between them as they will swell during baking.  Bake in moderate oven (mine is 160 degrees) for exactly 22 minutes.  They look nearly uncooked when you take them out and still bendy when (after 2  minutes)  transferring them to the wire rack.   While still hot coat the Kwarezimal with the golden syrup and sprinkle over the chopped almonds.  Best served next day.

I love them with freshly brewed coffee.




1. Marky - March 17, 2010

It was not considered to be a sweet because they used to use water instead of egg whites in the mixture.

Glace cherries are not part of the traditional kwarezimal. It is an extra ingredient added in recent years to make the kwarezimal less dry and sweeter.

The traditional recipe included other ingredients such as the ‘ilma zahar’ ‘anizetta’. The sugar had to be brown, and no baking powder was used.

2. sunflower71 - March 17, 2010

Hi Marky,
thanks for your comments. I was sure about the cherries… Didn’t know about the egg white vs water and the brown sugar sans bp. I’ll try it this way and see what happens.

3. Marky - March 17, 2010

Welcome 🙂 Yeah you should, it looks exquisite.

The most important factor in baking kwarezimal is that you do not overcook or let them get too hard whilst in the oven This is because once they are out of the oven they will harden more due to the almonds.

Gd luck ^_^ hehe

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