I originally wrote this post seven years ago. It’s such a wonderful Italian traditional cookie with flavors that scream Christmas, I wanted to bring it to you again.
Cucidate, little fig cookies, while appearing quite demure in appearance, hit the senses, as a true Christmas cookie, first with an aroma of the dried fruits soaked in a liquor and then ombined with nuts, cinnamon, and honey, wrapped in a delicate pastry.
Cucidate, the Italian Fig cookie from Sicily is a tribute to my grandfather.
Biaggio came to America twice before he actually decided to stay, and I can understand his trepidation to settle in the United States, after visiting his hometown some years ago.
As I walked around the village of Isnello outside of Palermo, I rested my eyes on one of the most beautiful mountain backdrops I’ve ever seen, while the ocean was only twenty minutes away.
Sicily is an earthy place of tradition, created by many visiting cultures over centuries of acquisition.
The people are humble, and yet rich in a food culture that is probably the most flavorful and robust of Italian cuisine, much like their personalities. American television has done a great disservice to Sicilians, using hyperbole, stereotypes and the sensationalism of organized crime. Most Sicilians are victims of crime, are not murderers and are not one dimensional.
This is probably a little extra special for me, because my grandfather had a fig tree he treated like a bab. Right before he died, he kept talking about “her.” Yes, he had decided his fig tree was a she, and he was worried, that she needed to be covered up for the winter or in his words, “shessa gonna die.”
My grandfather was never part of any organized crime, so please scratch your ideas about the people of Sicily. He was a kind soul who extended everyone who knocked on our door in for coffee. The family joke would be that we might find him serving coffee and cake to a burglar that tried to rob the house.
I found his warmth and patience compelling, especially contrasted with my grandmother who was an Italian diva, sometimes warm, and sometimes a little too sure of herself. They always seemed a mismatch, as she was born in America as a first generation Italian and exuded first class glamour. His kind would be referred to as “from the old country,” and that was considered a step down in status from first generation born.
She was divorced with a small child (my Aunt Rita of the stuffed shells legend) and yet could have had her pick of any man. How in the world my grandfather snatched her as a bride is quite stunning, and one of the good things that happened for me prior to my life.
They had a daughter, my mother (Retro Rose) who inherited more that Sicilian hospitality. I can’t tell you how many times, I would visit her apartment and she was feeding the maintenance men. She’s making someone a pot of meatballs at least weekly. When I first gave her some of these cookies, her first words were “can you make these for one of the elders at church.” I emphatically said no, these are just for the family. This attitude needed to be adjusted. Her desire to give the elders these special cookies is what being Sicilian is all about.
Cucidate Make a Great Gift
I had to think about that because aren’t Christmas cookies something we make to give away, to show our love for others? After researching these cookies, I read many stories about how often these cucidate are given away as gifts, and it got me thinking that I should plan to make several batches.
These cucidate excude the heart of the Sicilian culture. The dough is sweet; the fig filling full of flavor and life, and they make the perfect Christmas cookie gift, because they hit the heart.
The Process for Cucidate, Italian Fig Cookies
- Soak the raisin in bourbon for at least an hour.
- Chop figs or use a fig jam.
- Bring figs, dates (or dried plums/prumes) together with marmalade, honey and walnuts and process.
- Allow this filling to be refrigerated overnight to meld the flavors.
- Make pastry same day you make the filling and refrigerate overnight.
- Take out one pastry roll at a time and roll out and cut in squares.
- Fill and bake.
- Top with glaze and Italian sprinkles.
There are many ways to roll and fold the cookies. I did some in triangle, some folded over evenly. Some will turn the seam on the bottom, so you can’t see it. You can choose your own way.
Orange Glaze for Cucidate
I made an orange glaze and poured this over the cookies when hot, then sprinkled with these Italian cookie sprinkles I found in an Italian grocery store.
So tell me do you have a traditional cookie you like to give away as a gift? Have you ever had cucidati, the ultimate Sicilian fig cookie?
Cucidate – Sicilian Fig Christmas Cookies
- 2 cups dried figs or 2 cups fig jam
- 2 cups dried dates or dried plums
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup bourbon or Grand Marnier Cognac or Brandy
- 1 cup almonds or walnuts chopped
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup orange marmalade
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup sugar I always cut my sugar. I used 2/3 cup sugar
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter cold
- 2 eggs
- 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons orange juice) I used juice of one satsuma.
- small colored sprinkles
- Soak Raisins in bourbon for an hour up to overnight.
- Add to the rest of the ingredients.
- Grind all ingredients in food processor or Vitamix. The mixture should be ground enough to spread in the cookie. I substituted fig jam for dried figs and dried plums for dates.
- Refrigerate filling overnight.
- Mix flour, baking powder, sugar together.
- Cut butter in. I used the Kitchen Aid Mixer. You could cut in with pastry blender or use a food processor also.
- Beat eggs and milk to together. Reserve 1 tablespoon milk. You may not need it.
- Add to flour mixture, and form a dough. Add the extra milk of it’s too dry.
- Separate dough in 4 sections. Wrap each in plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for one hour or overnight.
- Mix confectioner’s sugar with orange juice. Add water a little at a time, until you have a thin glaze.
- Work with one section of pastry dough at a time.
- Roll each section into a tube. Divide into two sections to make it easier to work with.
- Flatten out each tube. Put mixture in center. Pull sides up to reach. Cut into 1 1/2 inch cookies.
- Bake at 375 Degrees F, 190 C. for 15 minutes.
- Spoon glaze over each cookie. Top with sprinkles.
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