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Worth the calories: Christmas treats in Maltese kitchens

Worth the calories: Christmas treats in Maltese kitchens

Christmas Day, also known to many as the day of feasting and unbuttoning our trousers to be able to feast some more, is almost upon us. Therefore, we thought it fitting to compile a list of all the delicious desserts, sweets and treats that you are bound to find in any Maltese household.

Let’s get into the good stuff.

Pudina tal-ħobż

PHOTO: littlerock.com.mt

Arguably one of Malta’s favourite recipes, especially around Christmas time is pudina tal-ħobż, the local version of bread pudding. It’s dense, it’s chocolatey, it’s delicious and it’s traditionally made with stale Maltese loaf, sultanas, orange rind, nutmeg, cloves and other spices. A family favourite, pudina is usually given as a parting gift after those Christmas feasts to take home and continue the stuffing-face process.

Christmas Log

Photo: vida.mt

The month of December is synonymous with Christmas log so who are we to leave it out of a list like this? Traditionally Maltese? Not exactly. Logs and yules are a tradition all over the world. However, the Maltese log is a hybrid of the more famous chocolate salami dessert by the Italians, except this one is dense, chewy and made from a mix of nuts, crushed biscuits and candied cherries (not in our kitchen!)

Baci balls

We know what you’re thinking: the Baci Perugina ball wrapped in foil, topped with a hazelnut and featuring a sweeter-than-honey love note are delicious and shouldn’t be messed with. We’re here to prove you wrong. Home-made Baci balls are not only absolutely delectable, but they are also a staple on most Maltese kitchen counters. They have a melt-in-your-mouth texture that we just cannot get enough of during Christmas, as well as any other day of the year.

Qagħaq Tal-Għasel

Photo: amaltesemouthful.com

Traditional qagħaq tal-għasel, translated to honey rings, are filled with treacle or golden syrup, as well as a bunch of other festive ingredients, including anisette, ground cloves, orange and lemon zest and mixed spices. The sweet pastry rings are traditionally associated with festive seasons including Christmas, Easter and other holidays, too but you can find them in most shops around the Maltese Islands throughout the year.


This towering round of sweet bread, traditionally speckled with raisins, citrus and almonds is an Italian dessert, originally from Milan. Why Panettone on this list, we hear you ask? Well, in case you have not yet noticed, there are no families across Malta who do not have at least two Panettone boxes on their kitchen tables. Often given as gifts around the Christmas period, the classic dessert dates back to the Renaissance when, it is said, that wheat was so scarce and precious that Panettone was only made at Christmas. For those who spend hours removing each and every raisin and sultana, the classic Pandoro is definitely an option worth considering.

Biskuttini tal-Lewż

Photo: newsbook.com.mt

These adorable little treats are made of the most simple and pure ingredients: ground almonds, sugar, almond essence and not very much else, although a whole blanched almond and half a glacé cherry is sometimes placed on top of the chewy treats. These almond biscuits are perfect for those Christmas afternoons on the sofa, whilst watching Love Actually for the third time this month.


Photo: amaltesemoutful.com

These pockets of tastiness are traditional Maltese sweets, made with deep-fried pastry and filled with a spiced date paste. A street-food of Arabic origins, the main characteristic of imqaret is the intense scent of aniseed it released when its fried. The name refers to the Maltese word for diamond (maqrut), because of its shape. Though associated with Christmas-time, imqaret can be found all over the islands on any given day. We would recommend eating them whenever and wherever you can!

Bonus post: imbuljuta tal-Qastan

Doesn’t get more traditionally Maltese than imbuljuta tal-qastan! This drink is usually served after midnight mass on Christmas, as well as on New Year’s Eve and is made of a myriad of spices, fruit and nuts including orange and mandarin zest, chestnuts, cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg and ground cloves, just to name a few. The hot drink captures the aromas of the end of the year and is perfect for sitting near the fireplace or under that soft blanket your mother-in-law gave you for Christmas.