Baking cookies at this time of the year seems to be a worldwide event. These Italian Fig Cookies know as Cuccidati are appropriately festive with a snowy white glaze and colored sprinkles. Take a bite and you know it’s Christmas time. Italian Fig Cookies are full of dried fruits, toasted nuts, spices and a touch of liqueur.
These Italian Fig cookies are very similar to the Calabrian Fig Cookies know as Petrali. Both are traditionally baked at Christmas time in great quantities to be shared with family and friends. This recipe comes from the cookbook by Greg Patent, A Baker’s Odyssey. While there seems to be many steps to this recipe, the filling and the dough can be made up to 3 days ahead. So break up the recipe. Prepare the filling one day, the dough the next and by the third day it’s simple to put the cookies together.
Maybe it’s not traditional but I loved the look of the cookies that were slit and fanned open to reveal the dark filling. And of course, it’s always a party when colored sprinkles are involved!
Do you have a Christmas baking tradition? Does your gift giving include home baked goodies? Are you super busy leading up to Christmas?
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Cuccidati – Italian Fig Cookies
- 14 oz (375 grams) dried figs
- 1 cup dark raisins
- ½ cup hazelnuts toasted and skinned
- 1 cup almonds toasted
- 1 cup walnuts coarsely chopped
- finely grated zest of 1 orange
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- ⅓ cup marmalade
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 tablespoon Marsala
- 2 tablespoons Amaretto
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 ½ cups all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1¼ cups (10oz / 2½ sticks / 285 grams) unsalted butter
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
- 2 large egg whites
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
To make filling
- Figs need to be soft. If they seem dry, cover with boiling water. Check after 5 minutes. If ready, remove and pat dry with paper towel. Snip off the hard stems and cut in half.
- Process hazelnuts and almonds in food process by pulsing a few times until just starting to chop. Add figs and raisins and process until finely chopped. Add in walnuts and and pulse a few times.
- Transfer to a bowl together with zests, marmalade, honey, Marsala, Amaretto, brandy, lemon extract, cinnamon and cloves. Mix with a spoon or hands until well combined.
- Refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.
To make dough
- Beat butter with electric mixer until soft. Gradually add sugar, beating well.
- Add in eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Mix in extracts.
- Sift in flour, salt and baking powder. Mix until just combine. Divide into four disks, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF/180°C. Line two baking trays with non stick paper
- Working with 1 disc at a time, roll out dough to a 12in/30cm x 7in/17cm rectangle. Trim edges and cut in half lengthwise.
- Divide filling into 8 portions. Using moistened hands, take one portion and roll into a log 12in/30cm long. Place on strip of dough. Repeat with another poriton of filling.
- Fold over pastry over to cover mixture, then roll up to form a log. Repeat with remaining pastry and fruit mixture.
- Using a floured knife, cut each fruit-filled log into 6 pieces. Cookies can be left as is or cut two slits three quarters of the way through cookies. Shape cookies gently to fan out slits.
- Place on prepared trays. . Bake for 25-30 minutes or until light golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
To make icing
- Whisk egg white and icing sugar in a bowl until combined. Add lemon juice and extract. Immediately drizzle biscuits with icing and scatter with colored sprinkles, to decorate.