Ilove creating a bit of Italy in my kitchen and then sharing it with friends and family, especially during the holiday season. It is a time to be together and hug and remember how much we love each other. And serving cookies will always make things better!
Cucidati – Sicilian fig-filled cookies, are a traditional Sicilian Christmas treat that are yummy and festive. They look lovely on a holiday platter and are fun to serve to guests. The name sounds like a children’s game or a pet name when you say it aloud. It is pronounced “kooch-ee-DA-ty” and means “little bracelets.”
When you bite into a cookie, you taste the figs spiced with cinnamon, cocoa and honey and understand the complexities of the Sicilian cuisine with its Arabic influence.
There are many variations and myriad ways to decorate these morsels of goodness. Every Sicilian grandma has her own favorite method for making these cookies, but the basic recipe is a fig-filling covered in a sweet, pastry dough.
This recipe is adapted from La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy. If you love Italian cooking, this is an excellent cookbook to have on hand; many consider it to be the Bible of Italian cooking. A group of industrious folks from Milan wanted to preserve the cultural heritage of Italian cooking, so they started the Italian Academy of Cuisine. They traveled throughout Italy to record the “classic recipes of regional Italian cooking.” This collection is 891 pages and has more than 2000 recipes that were gathered from villages, grandmothers, and farmers and is loaded with iconic and little-known dishes.
Here is a video to give you a visual look at each of the steps. Then find the complete recipe below.
Notes to the cook:
Make the dough and filling a few hours or a day before baking. The dough needs to chill and the flavors of the filling will marry and have a richer flavor.
For peeled almonds: Buy almonds that are already peeled or to peel them easily: Blanch almonds in boiling water for 1 minute and then immediately immerse in ice water to prevent further cooking. Rub the almonds together between the palms of your hands to loosen and discard the peels.
Gather grandchildren, cousins, friends to help make these cookies.
Cucidati - from Sicily - makes about 40 cookies
Almond and Fig Filled Christmas Cookies.
- For the dough
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 9 ounces butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 6 tablespoons cold water For the filling
- 1/2 lb almonds, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 pound dried figs
- 1 1/2 cups raisins
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 egg yolks, beaten
- Optional: Cookie frosting and sprinkles
- Put flour in a mixing bowl and make a well in the center.
- Add butter pieces and cut in with a pastry cutter until butter pieces are the size of small peas.
- Mix in sugar and 6 tablespoons of cold water.
- Stir and work ingredients until they form a smooth dough. ( If you desire, you can use a food processor instead: add flour and butter and pulse a few times to break up the butter. Add sugar and water and mix for about 30 seconds to form a smooth dough.)
- Put dough on a floured board and knead for 1 minute, wrap in waxed paper and chill for 1 hour or overnight. In the meantime, to make the filling:
- Using a food processor, pulse almonds and then figs to form a course mixture. If you don’t have a food processor, use a sharp knife or mezzaluna to finely chop almonds and figs.
- In a sauce pan, mix almonds, figs, raisins, honey, and cinnamon until well blended.
- Add the cocoa, turn to low heat and cook slowly, stirring constantly until mixture forms a thick paste.
- Chill for one hour or overnight. To make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 F
- Shape the filling into cylinders that are 1 inch in diameter and 8 inches in length.
- Roll out the dough on a well floured board. Cut into strips that are 4 inches wide and 9 inches long.
- Place a cylinder of filling onto one of the strips and roll it up like a hot dog in a bun (It helps to watch the video to get a visual of this step).
- Form the dough covered cylinder into a doughnut shape and place on a greased cookie sheet.
- Use a brush to coat the outside of the dough with egg yolks.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Once the cookies have cooled, cut into 1 inch pieces. Cookies will keep in an airtight container for several days.
- Optional: Decorate cookies with your favorite frosting and/or Christmas sprinkles. Buon Appetito and Happy Holidays to you and yours! Thank you for visiting my blog and for being part of this grand adventure.