Essijiet – Maltese Tea Time Cookies with a shot of Vermouth
by eat in my kitchen
When I’m on the phone or video chat with our family in Malta, you can be sure it will go on for hours, it will involve many people, coming and going, lots of laughing and very often the exchange of recipes. Especially when I talk to Granny Edith who has been cooking and baking all her life, so you can imagine her large recipe collection, influenced by her mother, grandmother and all the close relatives and friends which are quite numerous in a Maltese family. I found so many traditional dishes in her collection, true treasures! Like everybody else in the family, I love to sit with Edith at her kitchen table in her beautiful old villa in Msida at the sea, talking about life, cooking, men, fashion, the offers at the vegetable man and the butcher, normal daily life, it feels so easy on this island! We enjoy a cup of tea, some sweets from our local confectionary (which is the best in Malta in our opinion) and appreciate every second!
Recently I’ve been talking to her about baking and she handed some recipes over to me which caught my attention. One is a traditional tea time cookie recipe from her mother-in-law Maria, she used to make them for the family, Edith continued the tradition and now she passes it on to the next generations. It’s a very easy cookie recipe, made with so little ingredients that I thought I had left some out when I started preparing the dough. It’s just butter, flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and a shot of vermouth making a delicious cookie, fine in taste, buttery and crumbly. I couldn’t have asked for more for tea time! The cookies don’t really have a proper name apart from the family given one, referring to their shape they are called Essijiet, meaning “s’s” in Maltese.
Essijiet – Maltese Tea Time Cookies
For around 60 cookies you need
plain flour 300g / 10.5 ounces
baking powder 1/2 teaspoon
sugar 1 tablespoon
pinch of salt
butter 200g / 7 ounces
vermouth 2 tablespoons
icing sugar for dusting
Combine the flour with the baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut the butter with a knife into the flour until there are just little pieces of butter left. Continue with your fingers and work the butter into the flour until combined (there shouldn’t be any lumps of butter left). Add the vermouth and continue mixing with the hooks of your mixer until you have a crumbly mixture. Form a ball, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for an hour or in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Set the oven to 175°C / 350°F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut thick slices off the dough, make thin rolls and cut into 12cm / 5″ pieces. Form the cookies into an S-shape and bake for 9 minutes or until lightly golden (they stay light in colour). Let them cool for a couple minutes and dust with icing sugar.