It just wouldn’t be Christmas at our house, or any Sicilian house for that matter, without Cuccidati, Italian Fig Cookies. These wonderful treats may just be the most famous of all Italian cookies. And rightfully so. The cookie is soft and tender and it surrounds a filling made with figs, dates, oranges, jam, and Brandy. Simply delicious!
Table of contents
- What are Italian Fig Cookies or Cuccidati
- How to make the best Italian Fig Cookies
- Ingredients you will need
- Make the fig filling
- Make the cuccidati dough and assemble the cookies
- How to make the glaze and decorate Italian Fig Cookies
- Other delicious cookie recipes:
- Other desserts perfect for the holidays:
What are Italian Fig Cookies or Cuccidati
Italian fig cookies also knows as cuccidati, buccelatti (little bracelets) or Sicilian fig cookies, are fig stuffed cookies that are traditionally served at Christmas . The versions are as varied as the towns they come from. Some have a harder or crispier dough and others are softer. Some have nuts, some use jam to sweeten the filling, others use honey. Even the traditional shape of the cookies is very regional.
Although there are slight differences from one family to another, they are all delicious and they are all authentic, because they come from recipes that have been handed down for generations.
What they all have in common is the basic fig filing. Today the use of a food processor makes the job of grinding the fruit much easier! Years ago, the butchers in each town would shut down for one day a year and clean out all the meat grinders. Then they would open their shop, so that the women in town could come and grind their dried fruits and nuts for the holiday cookies.
How to make the best Italian Fig Cookies
I am so excited to be sharing our family recipe with you. This is the recipe that I remember my grandmother making, what my mother has made for years and what I hope that generations to come share with their families. If you know me, you know that one of the main reasons that I started this blog was to memorialize our family recipes and like our Pani Di Cena and Nonna’s Pineapple Cookies, this is an incredibly special recipe.
Ingredients you will need
Filling ingredients and substitutions
Dried Figs which can be found in most grocery stores during the falling and Christmas baking season. Any type of fig will do, so whatever you can easily find will work.
Dates that are pitted will make your life a lot easier.
Raisins of any variety will work. We have made the filling using both dark and golden raisin and it is delicious either variety.
Orange Marmalade adds to the sweetness and provides additional orange flavor, but you can substitute candies orange in this recipe if you prefer.
Brandy can be substituted with marsala wine or your favorite liqueur. We often use amaretto too.
Dough ingredient notes
Flour used in this recipe is All Purpose. You may need to add a little more depending on how big your eggs are.
Eggs should be fresh and at room temperature before you start baking.
Make the fig filling
- Rehydrate the dried figs by boiling them for about 10 minutes.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and process until it forms a paste.
- Refrigerate until you are ready to make your cookies.
Your filling may be darker or lighter in color depending on the types of figs and raisins that you use.
Make the filling a few days before you are going to bake the cookies so that the flavors have time to blend together.
Make the cuccidati dough and assemble the cookies
1. To make the dough
• Combine the flour and baking powder and set aside.
• Beat the eggs in a mixer, add the Crisco and beat for a couple of minutes.
• Then add the sugar, vanilla and milk and beat for two more minutes.
• Add the flour one cup at a time.
• The dough should be soft but not sticky.
• If it is sticky add flour one tablespoon at a time.
2. On a floured surface start with a small portion of dough and roll into a 10″ log. Using a rolling pin flatten the log so that it is about 4 inches wide.
3. Mound the filling along the length of the log.
4. Carefully fold one side of the dough over the filling and roll over the other side of the dough forming a log again and sealing the filling in the center.
5. Cut the log into 2″ long pieces while holding your knife at an angle.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies are a light golden brown.
Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
Depending on the size of your eggs you may need to add up to a cup of additional flour to get the dough to the right consistency.
Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour before assembling the cookies. This will make it easier to work with.
You can make the dough a day or two ahead if you want to make the process easier, but you will need to take it out of the refrigerator about 2 hours before you are going to assemble the cookies.
How to make the glaze and decorate Italian Fig Cookies
- To make the frosting combine confectioners sugar, vanilla and milk until the frosting is thick but pourable.
Frost the cookies by dipping them top down into the glaze and removing the excess. Then decorate as you like. Colorful sprinkles are popular, but I love to use sanding sugar for a little sparkle and a wintery look.
Once the frosting on the cookies has dried, you can store them in an airtight container with sheets of wax paper between the layers. The cookies will stay fresh stored this way at room temperature for up to a week.
Yes. Place them in an airtight container with wax paper between the layers of cookies and cover with plastic wrap, then secure the container lid and place them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Other delicious cookie recipes:
Other desserts perfect for the holidays:
“Cuccidati” Italian Fig Cookies
- Food Processor, Mixer
- 8 cups Flour
- 7 tsps. Baking Powder
- 6 Large Eggs
- 1 lb. Shortening
- 2 1/2 cups Sugar
- 1 cup Milk
- 2 tsps. Vanilla
- 1 lb. Figs Dried
- 1 lb. Dates Dried
- 1 cup Raisins optional
- 1 Orange Peel and juice only
- 2 tbsp. Vanilla extract
- 1 shot Brandy or more if you like
- 2 tbsp. Orange Marmalade
- 3 cups Confectioners Sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 5 tbsp Milk
- Place the figs in a pan with enough water to completely cover them. Boil gently for 10 minutes. Drain and allow to cool off slightly.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and process until a paste is formed.
- The filling should be made 2 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
- The filling can be stored in the refrigerator or frozen for several months.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Combine baking powder with the flour and set aside.
- Beat eggs on medium speed with a mixer.
- Add shortening to the eggs and continue to beat.
- Add the sugar to the egg mixture. Beat until the sugar is fully incorporated.
- Add the milk and vanilla and mix well.
- While you are continuing to beat the mixture, add the flour, one cup at a time, making sure to incorporate it between additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl often. The dough should be soft but not sticky.Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour.
- Work with one small mound of dough at a time.
- Lightly flour your work surface and roll the dough into a log about 10" – 12"long.
- Using a rolling pin, flatten the log to about 3-4 inches wide.
- Using a teaspoon, mound the filling in the center of the log along the whole length of the dough.
- Carefully fold one side of the dough over the filling and roll over the other side of the dough forming a log again and sealing the filling in the center. You may need to lift the dough up with a dough scraper to get it started.
- Using a serrated knife, cut the cookies to about 2" long, at a angle.. The cookies will spread as they bake.
- Arrange the cookies 2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes or until they are golden brown.
- Cool completely and frost by dipping the cookie in the frosting and spreading the frosting over the entire cookie with your finger
- Mix the confectioners' sugar, vanilla and milk until smooth. The frosting is pourable but is not liquid