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Qubbajt: Traditional Maltese Nougat

Qubbajt: Traditional Maltese Nougat

Qubbajt, or otherwise known as traditional Maltese nougat, is a national treasure of the sacred feasts of Malta and Gozo, tracing back to the Knights of St. John.

This is the sweet treat that accompanies all celebrations. You will always find those individually packaged white bars with almonds in every town that is celebrating its feast. The festas begin in May and go through summer, offering nearly 90 village feasts and festas between Malta and Gozo.

There is a hard version that looks like almond and nut brittle and the soft version that is the white (or sometimes pink or other colours depending on the celebration) bar with almonds and hazelnuts inside. There is also a smaller, slimmer, no nuts version that many consider the child version of the Maltese nougat that is wrapped in bright, shiny colours and known as ‘Peniti’. No matter what festa is being celebrated, the Maltese nougat is sure to appear.

In order to make such a unique and sacred treat, it requires highly skilled hands. There are very few people on the island who specialise in making such treats. When it comes to Malta, there is one place that everyone thinks of when it comes to the most traditional and delicious nougat and that is none other than Robert and Marie Caruana at the Beehive Confectionary in Żebbuġ, Malta.

Emily together with Robert and Marie Caruana

Beehive Confectionary is home to over 75 years of service making Maltese specialty items for the feasts around Malta and Gozo. It was first founded by Robert’s father, Carmelo, where Robert would work at the shop after school as a child to help him make the treats. Since taking over the business, the demand has grown so much that Robert had to expand and open a new shop that could accommodate the need. Robert took over the shop thirty-three years ago and has continued in their traditions of supplying the traditional treats to all of Malta and Gozo at every festa in all the various towns. Now, they set up stands in several locations and his children are also in the family business.

We met with owners Robert and Marie Caruana to learn how they make the soft and hard Qubbajt.

We focused on the soft nougat; the white bars with almonds and hazelnuts. When we arrived, the nougat had already been made and Robert rolled it out and then cut the bars into perfect slices. The ingredients for the nougat are whipped egg whites, sugar that is cooked to a specific temperature, glucose, water, lots of nuts and sometimes even candied fruit.

When I arrived, he had long boxes filled with parchment paper and filled to the top was the nougat. The boxes were spread across the long table on one side of the shop, while on the other side was a large mound of nougat waiting to be rolled out and pressed into the next round of long wooden crates.

From there, he will put them in the cold room over night. He pulled out the cold, hardened nougat from the box and then sliced it with a saw to make perfectly cut bars all the same length and width. From there, they go to the next machine in which they package and seal each bar.

The next time you find yourself out celebrating at any village feast or celebration, be sure to look for the traditional nougat stand set up to sample some authentic Maltese nougat!