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 knows as cuccidati, buccelatti (little bites) 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, 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 dried 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.
The best Cuccidati recipe
I am so excited to be sharing our family recipe 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. If you know me, you know that one of the main reasons that I started this blog was to memorialize our family recipes like Nonna’s Pani Di Cena, Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies, Pignoli or Pine Nut Cookies, and Pineapple Cookies, this is an incredibly special recipe to me.
Ingredients you will need to make Sicilian Cuccidati
Filling ingredient notes and substitutions
Dried Figs which 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 pieces of 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
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.
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 a 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.
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 wrap the entire container with plastic wrap. Store the cookies in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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.
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