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Countdown to Christmas 2020: “Cucidati” Italian Fig Cookies

Note: We’re celebrating the season with a special #Christmas2020 holiday cookie countdown! We’re offering a wide variety of take-and-bake cookies plus special ready-to-eat breads via the San Juan Islands Food Hub this holiday season. Create the perfect cookie tray at home or send them to friends and family! If you miss the Food Hub deadline to order, call us directly at (360) 378-3587 to place orders until December 18 for pickup December 21-26 or order by December 25 for pickup December 28-January 2.

Cucidati or fig cookies are a long-standing holiday tradition in many Italian/Sicilian households including my own. My grandmother would make hundreds of cookies every year during Christmas and these were one of everyone’s favorites. One of the amazing things about having recipes passed down through generations is that down the line an aunt tweaks this or a cousin adds that to make it their own. Here we have what we think is the original recipe that made us fall in love with this holiday cookie.

Ingredients

Dough

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 c butter, chilled and cut into pieces
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 c milk

Fig Filling

1 c pecans
1 1/2 c dried figs
1/2 c dried dates
1/2 c raisins
2 Tbsp orange zest
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 c sugar
1/4 c warm water

Instructions

Dough

1. Pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Add the cold butter pieces and pulse again.

2. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and milk. Process until the dough just starts to combine (like pie dough). Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until it comes together completely and looks smooth.

3. Divide the dough into four equal pieces and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

Filling

1. Place the dried figs, dates, pecans, raisins, and orange zest in the food processor. Give it a couple of pulses to start grinding the fruit.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

3. Add the water and sugar mixture to the food processor and pulse until combined.

4. Place in an air-tight container and refrigerate overnight or until ready to use.

Forming and Baking

1. Preheat the oven to 325° F degrees.

2. Form the fig filling into ropes about the size of your little finger. Set aside.

3. Place one portion of dough at a time on a well-floured surface. Knead the dough a few times until it becomes smooth and roll out to about 1/8 inch thick.

4. Trim the rough edges from the dough, place a rope of filling on the dough edge. Lift the outer edge and start rolling the dough over the filling. Roll completely over and trim off. Place seam side down.

5. Slice each strip on the diagonal into about 1-inch pieces and place them on the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. (If the dough it too soft to slice cleanly, place in the refrigerator for 20-25 minutes and then try slicing again.)

6. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the tops and bottoms are a light golden brown.

7. Allow cookies to cool on the pan for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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