The Maltese have a sweet tooth. Travelling to Malta means that there’s always room for a Maltese dessert during dinner time.
With the onslaught of celebrity TV chefs and their insulin-shock inducing treats, we’ve come to expect our desserts to be little more than overindulgent sugar rushes. But the true gourmand knows that a dessert needs to bring flavour along with the sweetness. It should be rich, but challenging to the palate; sweet, but not overly so.
Maltese desserts, like others from around the Mediterranean, tend not to have an abundance of chocolate, and often include fresh ricotta, and dried fruit. The interesting addition of ingredients like orange-blossom water, honey, nuts and dates, candied peel, aniseed, and sesame seed make for a truly delicious and sometimes exotic experience.
To finish off a meal, try some Maltese ice-cream. Look for ice-cream made with evaporated milk – it has a heavier, richer texture than normal ice-cream and it’s what the locals love. Other popular desserts include: Sinizza – sweet pastry filled with ricotta and candied peel, Pudina tal-hobz – a Maltese bread pudding with carob syrup, Torta tal-Marmurat – an almond-filled pie topped with chocolate and icing, and Sfineg ta’ San Guzepp – similar to the Italian zeppoli, these are fried dough balls filled with sweet ricotta and covered in Maltese honey.
The Maltese do have a sweet tooth, and that means sweets aren’t just for after a meal. You can find a great deal of delicious confections to snack on, at any time of the day. Try Ħelwa tat-Tork – a paste made of sweetened, crushed sesame seeds, Mqaret – deliciously deep-fried date cakes, and Kannoli – the Maltese take on Sicilian cannoli, filled with sweet ricotta, dried fruit, and nuts.