A slice of Vegan prinjolata ed during carnival

Prinjolata – Malta’s Carnival Cake Made Healthy and Vegan

Prinjolata is a traditional Maltese Pine Nut Cake that you’ll find in every confectionary and round the streets of Malta during Carnival. This carnival cake is unlike anything you’ve ever seen! It’s messy, colourful and might just be the sweetest, most delicious, yet highest calorie dessert you’ve ever come across. 

Although this dessert is absolutely divine, it’s not necessarily a bad thing that we only make this once a year. Firstly, it’s quite literally a calorie bomb. Secondly, it is reasonably time-consuming to make from scratch.

Top shot of Prinjolata - A Maltese Carnival Cake

What are the traditional Prinjolata ingredients? 

There are a few variations in the way this Maltese cake dome is prepared. You’ll find Prinjolata with biscuit recipes, Prinjolata with just cake, and some that call for a mix of both. 

A few variations use butter and sugar that combine in a butter cream to bring the mixture together. This type is usually dry and crumbly. Other Prinjolata recipes use sweetened condensed milk for a moist, fudgy filling. 

To finish off, you’ll find variations coated in egg white meringue, and others using fresh cream to top the dome. Prinjolata is then decorated with colorful chopped glazed cherries, nuts, and drizzles of melted chocolate that give it a ‘circus theme cake’ look.

My all-time favourite version has always been my mum’s Prinjolata. She used a recipe that called for both biscuits and cake, and she added sweetened condensed milk to the filling that resulted in a super-sweet gooey texture. She topped hers off with whipped cream and the traditional decorations. 

Nothing beats sinking my teeth into such a delicious, dense mix of divinity.  

Obviously, I based my healthy Prinjolata recipe on hers. I’ve never tasted one which even comes close, until now.

Partial view of a Maltese Prinjolata

How to make Prinjolata Healthy and Vegan

Prinjolata is very heavy on unhealthy ingredients. I therefore had to substitute pretty much every single ingredient to create this recipe. 

For the sponge cake, I created a recipe using olive oil and yogurt instead of margarine. I used sultanas and sweetener instead of sugar, and a blend of almond and wholemeal flour rather than white bleached flour. In place of biscuits, I mixed in a blend of nuts and dried fruits. I also created my own sweetened condensed milk using soya milk and dates.

To cover the Prinjolata, I replaced whipped cream with canned coconut milk. I switched glazed cherries with unsweetened dried papaya and used stevia sweetened dark chocolate for drizzling, to reduce the amount of sugar even further. 

A slice of healthy Prinjolata that looks moist and delicious

This vegan Prinjolata completely eliminates trans fats found in margarine, cakes, and biscuits. It also reduces some 350g of sugar found in the traditional recipe. (The 397g can of sweetened condensed milk contains 220g of sugar within itself). 

Sweetener and brandy can’t exactly be considered clean, yet these are necessary to make it taste as close to the original as possible. After all, it’s pointless making a healthier version unless non-healthy and non-vegan people like it too!

And like it they did!  I took a whole Prinjolata to the office without mentioning a word that it’s healthy or vegan. It was gone within the hour! 

A Maltese Prinjolata Carnival Cake

Prinjolata Calories 

This recipe contains less than half the calories of my mum’s recipe, for a prinjolata of the same size (around 1.2kg). Keeping in mind just how calorie dense a slice of prinjolata is, getting it down to 294 calories per slice (based on 15 servings) is already a big deal! 

The first time I posted the recipe, there were some comments that this recipe can’t exactly be considered healthy, so I went ahead and created a V2, to clean it up even further. The recipe below is an improved version with less sweeteners, and subbing some of the almond flour with oat flour to reduce the calorie count. And the best part – it can be enjoyed by vegans and others with food intolerances too 😉

If made from scratch, this recipe does require quite some time to prepare, yet I promise the result will be totally worth it. Another improvement from the first version of the recipe is that I chopped off the time it takes to make the sweetened condensed milk, bringing down the total cook time to just 1.5 hours.

We seem to have a thing for crushed biscuits and sweetened condensed milk here in Malta. Many of the traditional sweets in our repertoire contain these 2 ingredients. If you’re a fan of this type of taste, check out the Maltese Christmas Log recipe and these Coconut Balls

Want to discover other traditional Maltese desserts that we love to eat during the Easter period? Check out these Healthy Figolli and Kwarezimal

A slice of Vegan prinjolata ed during carnival

A Healthy and Vegan Prinjolata Recipe

Geraldine Bartolo
Prinjolata is Malta's most colorful dessert which we pig out on during the carnival period. One bite and you're addicted to this sweet mountain.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Maltese, Mediterranean
Servings 15 slices
Calories 294 kcal


  • Food Processor
  • Saucepan
  • Muffin Tin
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Electric Hand Mixer


Vegan Sweetened Condensed Milk Ingredients

  • 350 ml Soya Milk
  • 200 g Dates
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil

Healthy Sponge Cake Ingredients

  • 200 ml Almond Milk
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 100 g Soya Yogurt
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 50 g Almond Flour
  • 100 g Oat Flour
  • 150 g Wholemeal Flour or gluten free flour if needed
  • 75 g Sweetener I used erythritol
  • 75 g Sultanas
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • Pinch of Salt

Filling & Decoration

  • 2 tbsp Cognac Brandy
  • 50 g Pine Nuts save 10g for decoration
  • 50 g Almonds save 10g for decoration
  • 75 g Dates
  • 40 g Dried Unsweetened Fruits I used Papaya, save 10g for decoration
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • 1 can Coconut Milk (normal fat) chilled overnight
  • 30 g Sweetener
  • 40 g Stevia Sweetened Dark Chocolate


Prepare the Sponge Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 180 °C.
  • Add in all the ‘Sponge Cake’ ingredients to the bowl of your food processor, and pulse until well combined.
  • Spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray and pour in the batter evenly. (You will reduce baking time by baking in a muffin tin as opposed to a normal cake tin).
  • Bake for around 20 minutes until golden brown.

How to make your own Sweetened Condensed Milk

  • While muffins are in the oven, prepare sweetened condensed milk. Add dates, milk vanilla and coconut oil to a saucepan and simmer on medium heat.
  • Keep stirring regularly and break the dates while stirring.
  • When the mixture becomes creamy, remove from heat and blend until smooth using a hand blender.

Bring together & Decorate

  • Meanwhile, process nuts, dried fruits and dates in your food processor, until everything is finely chopped.
  • To make coconut whip cream, all you need is a refrigerated can of coconut milk and a sweetener of choice (I use erythritol). When you refrigerate a can of coconut milk, the cream rises to the top and separates from the water. Simply scoop out the hardened coconut milk from the top of the can (leaving the water), add it to the sweetener. Beat until light and fluffy.
  • To bring it all together, crumble the muffins into a bowl, and add the nuts and dried fruits to the mixture. Combine with 2 tablespoons cognac and 1 teaspoon vanilla essence.
  • Slowly add in sweetened condensed milk until the mixture takes up the consistency of a crumbly dough. Don’t worry if you don’t use all the sweetened condensed milk, you can keep this stored in the fridge to use in another recipe.
  • Shape the mixture into a dome.
  • Finish off the prinjolata by coating in coconut whip cream, melted dark chocolate drizzles and chopped fruit and nuts.


If you use My Fitness Pal to log your food, you can find this recipe listed on the database as ‘The Healthy Malteser Vegan Prinjolata’ .

Did you give this simple tofu recipe a go? We’d love to hear from you! Rate the recipe and leave your comments below. And don’t forget to Tag @TheHealthyMalteser on Facebook and Instagram for a chance to have your recipe featured in our stories! 

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    2 thoughts on “Prinjolata – Malta’s Carnival Cake Made Healthy and Vegan”

    1. 5 stars
      Perfect combination of ingredients – even tastier than the normal ‘unhealthy’ version in my opinion. Has a great soft texture and not too sweet in taste – just perfect!

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