Thursday, October 9, 2014

Anna Sultana's Dead Man's Bones #2 / Traditional Maltese Cookies for All Souls' Day

The picture I posted with the story about my husband Paul meeting Geoffrey Holder reminded me that Halloween will be here in a few weeks.
Yeah, my mind works that way.

Let’s see…  Halloween…  Halloween…
It’s time to pull out the recipes for family favourites and start baking some holiday treats.

Dead Man's Bones is a cookie Maltese folks made for Halloween.
Well, actually, they - the Bones - were usually made in November.
During November Maltese would remember their dead and eat Dead Man's Bones.

Yes, that does sound like something out of The Walking Dead.
I don’t know why they made cookies that looked like bones.
It’s an old recipe.
Maybe a long, long time ago people had a different sense of what was creepy.
Well, it’s possible.

Anyway, we were living in America.
Halloween was as popular in the 1950s as it is now in the twenty-first century, so Ma baked Dead Man's Bones for Halloween.

About three years ago I posted the recipe for Ma’s recipe for Dead Man's Bones - Ghadam tal-mejtin.
Of course, as with other Maltese recipes, Ma had more than one way to make Bones.
The first recipe I posted was pretty basic.
This recipe is a little more labour intensive.
They are almond filled pastries shaped liked bones.
With the icing, they look less like bones.
Every little bit helps.

                        Dead Man's Bones

Preheat oven to 375ยบ
Place the rack in the middle of the oven
Grease a baking sheet

for filling
In a medium bowl combine
1 3/4 Cups ground almonds
1 3/4 Cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon rind
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or almond extract)
Stir together until it forms a ball.

for pastry
In a large mixer bowl place
4 Cups flour
1 Cup margarine
Cut in the margarine until it resembles crumbs.
3/4 Cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon lemon rind 
2 eggs
Combine to form a dough.
Add a few drops of water if necessary.  

Roll out the pastry.
Cut out rectangular shapes, 4 inches by 6 inches. 
Place some of the filling down the centre of the pastries.
Moisten the edges with water and close the pastry into a strip. 
Shape the pastry by squeezing the centre part and shaping the edges to make it look like a bone. 
Place the bones on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes. 
Let cool completely on a rack.

for icing
in a small bowl place
1 1/2 Cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 Cup water
Add more water or sugar if necessary.
Spread icing on cookies.

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