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Desserts in Malta

Let's talk about Desserts in Malta and more!
- Sweet Treats For A Sweet Tooth -

Desserts in Malta

The word itself is derived from the French term ‘desservir’, which means ‘to clear the table’. Although it was a term that was first used in 1600, desserts have featured as far back as 500BC (or even earlier, depending what you consider it to be) in India, where ‘khanda’ (sugar crystals) was created and what gave rise to the word ‘candy’. Although everyone now understands what dessert means, in some places it’s referred to as ‘pudding’ (especially the UK).

Desserts in Malta can literally be found anywhere on the island! Every cafe provides cakes and sweets to go with your coffee or tea and every restaurant has their own dessert menu. Sweet treats in Malta can be found on every food delivery app at any time of the day and delivered straight to your front door. Be sure to save some for those midnight cravings!

Types of Desserts

The most likely forms of dessert ever created would have been with naturally sweetened products such as dried fruit or honey. However, when refined sugarcane came along and made its way across the globe, its use in desserts was invaluable and sparked the creation of the millions of dessert recipes that have accumulated over time. Below are the categories that most desserts fall into:

Cakes

What a sad world it would be if cake only existed for birthday parties! There are so many variations of hot and cold/ frozen cakes, it’s hard to pick. From sponge cake to pavlovas (made with meringue), mini-cupcakes to petit-fours, the list is endless. Whatever your preference, there’s a cake for everyone!

Cookies/ Biscuits

Cookies galore! So may types of these exist, but all include the same basic ingredients – sugar or sweetener, eggs, flour and butter. From there, the world is your oyster! You can add anything your heart desires – chocolate chips, nuts, oats, caramel, jams and so on. They vary in texture, size and shape but one thing is for sure – they can be found in every corner of the world!

Frozen Desserts

During the typically intense Maltese summers, these would be the top choice for locals and visitors alike! Ice cream and gelato sales soar, with the former being made from churned cream and the latter using milk instead. Fruit sorbets, frozen yoghurt and ice-cream cakes are also popular.

Custards/ Puddings

At the core of these dishes is usually a thickened base. Whether it’s dairy or starches, it is the type of thickener used that determine if it’s a pudding or custard. For example, eggs are used to thicken custard whilst rice pudding is thickened with the starch from the rice itself.

Chocolates and Candies

These types of desserts could be anything from fudge, lollipops, pralines or truffles to marshmallows, bon bons, jelly beans and liquorice. It’s all about the crystallisation of sugar, the smaller the crystals, the smoother the texture.

Pastries

Pastries can be turned into many forms of desserts. For example, profiteroles, chocolate puff pastry twists, cinnamon rolls and so on. A lot of desserts in Malta consist of pastry, which although can be heavy, are truly decadent nonetheless!

Pies

In its simplest terms, a pie consists of a pastry crust with any kind of filling you can imagine! The pie crust could be on top, at the bottom, or both and can be made from shortcrust pastry or a basic biscuit base. As for the filling – think of any fruit and yes, it can be turned into a delicious pie filling – from banoffee pie to apple pie, a delicious chocolate custard or a lemon meringue… the variety is endless!

Most Popular Desserts In Malta

  • Date Cakes – Imqaret
    This is not actually a cake at all, but rather a deep-fried pastry stuffed with a divine date filling. It is a remnant left behind from the Arab world, where the term comes from the singular ‘maqrut’, meaning diamond. They are often also cut into rectangular shapes and can be eaten hot right out of the fryer or served with ice cream. Worth a try!
  • 2. Maltese Cannoli – Kannoli Tal-Irkotta

    Just as popular as the ones found in Sicily (and just as addictive!), these thick crispy pastry shells are stuffed with sweetened ricotta cheese. You’ll find a few variations across the island, some which include orange peel, candied peel, glacee cherries and chocolate chips.

  • 3. Maltese Honey Rings – Qaghaq Tal-Ghasel

    Contrary to what the name implies, honey isn’t found in any part of them! It’s actually a dark syrup called treacle that’s used to stuff this thin crispy pastry, and goes down a treat when sipping on tea on a cold winter afternoon!

  • 4. Almond Cake – Torta Tal-Lewz

    A deliciously soft pastry that’s complemented with an intensely rich almond filling and sometimes consists of honey and orange peel. When you come across them, grab one – you’ll keep going back for more!

  • Although desserts in Malta are abundant – the Maltese love their sweets – their own traditional and local treats can be found at a variety of places, including grocers and supermarkets. However, if you truly want to experience a larger selection, then be sure to head to a local village feast where you’ll find countless vendors selling so many more options than the ones mentioned above. Your sweet tooth won’t be disappointed, but your hips might!