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 on the holiday cookie tray. And rightfully so. The cookie is soft and tender and it surrounds a filling made with a fragrant mix of dried figs, dates, oranges, jam, and Brandy. Simply delicious!
Table of contents
- What are Italian Fig Cookies or Cuccidati Cookies
- The best Cuccidati recipe
- Ingredients you will need to make Sicilian Cuccidati
- How to make the fig filling
- Baking tips
- How to make the Cuccidati
- Baking tips
- How to make the glaze and decorate these delicious cookies
- Other traditional Italian cookies:
- Other desserts perfect for the holidays:
What are Italian Fig Cookies or Cuccidati Cookies
Italian fig cookies also known as cuccidati, Buccellati (little bracelets), or Sicilian fig cookies, are fig-filled cookies that are traditionally served at Christmas time. 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, and others use honey. Even the traditional shape of the cookies is very regional.
There are a few steps involved in making Cuccidati, but you can simplify the process by making the filling ahead of time. Even the dough can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight.
The best Cuccidati recipe
I am so excited to be sharing our family recipe for Cuccidati with you. This is the recipe that I remember my Sicilian grandmother making, what my mother has made for years, and what I hope that generations to come share with their families. It is traditional for us to make Nonna’s Cuccidati at Christmas along with Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies, Pignoli or Pine Nut Cookies, and Pineapple Cookies. But this Cuccidati recipe is the most special to me.
Ingredients you will need to make Sicilian Cuccidati
Filling ingredient notes and substitutions
Dried Figs can be easily found in the grocery store during the fall and Christmas holiday season. Any type of fig will do, so whatever you can easily find will work. Mission figs seem to be the most common in our area.
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 raisins and it is delicious with either variety.
Orange Marmalade adds to the sweetness and provides additional orange flavor, but you can substitute candied orange in this recipe if you prefer.
Fresh orange peel and juice. Use a sharp knife to cut the peel of the orange so that you do not get any of the white bitter pith. You can also use orange zest in place of the whole peel.
Brandy can be substituted with marsala wine or your favorite liqueur. We always have amaretto in the house so that is often used in our filling.
Cookie dough ingredient notes
The 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 making the dough.
Ingredients for the simple glaze
How to 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 thick paste.
- Refrigerate the fig mixture 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.
How to make the Cuccidati
1. Make the pastry dough
- Combine the flour and baking powder and set aside.
- Beat the eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer or a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. Add the shortening and beat for a couple of minutes.
- Then add the sugar, vanilla, and milk and beat for two more minutes.
- Add the flour mixture 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. Assemble the cookies
- 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.
- Mound the filling along the 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 and sealing the filling in the center. The log seam side should be on the bottom of the log.
- Cut the log into 2″ long pieces while holding your knife at an angle
3. Bake the cookies
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
- Place the cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets about 1″-2″ inches apart.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies are light golden brown.
- Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack 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.
- Working with small pieces of dough will make it easier to fill and roll the dough.
How to make the glaze and decorate these delicious 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.
Cuccidati are often made in different shapes. Half-moon or circular shapes made to resemble bracelets are very popular.
Nuts are also a popular addition to the filling. Hazelnuts or walnuts are the most traditional ingredients. They should be toasted and ground before adding them to the rest of the ingredients.
I have also seen shaved or finely chopped chocolate included in the filling.
Once the frosting on the cookies has dried, you can store them in an airtight container with sheets of wax paper between the layers. Store the cookies at room temperature for up to a week.
Yes, Cuccidati cookies freeze really well. Place them in an airtight container with wax paper between the layers of cookies and cover them with plastic wrap, then secure the container lid and wrap the entire container with plastic wrap. Store the cookies in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Cuccidati is pronounced “coo-chi-dah-ti”. In Sicily, you may see them referred to as vurciddatu or purciddatu.
Other traditional Italian cookies:
My mother’s Italian Almond Cookies are crunchy on the outside and tender and chewy on the inside. Anginetti Cookies – Italian Lemon Cookies, Ricotta Cookies, Sesame Cookies, and Italian Butter Cookies are real crowd pleasers and you will often find them on holiday trays as well as wedding and special occasion dessert tables.
Pani Di Cena, a tender anise flavored cookie is traditionally made at Easter time in most Sicilian towns.
For something a little less traditional but just as decadent you will want to try my Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies.
Other desserts perfect for the holidays:
I love to get your feedback so if you tried this recipe for Cuccidati or any other recipes on this website, please leave me a comment below. I hope you enjoy our recipes and look forward to hearing from you!
“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