Scenes from Our Annual Cucidati Making Day

homemade cucidatiYesterday I spent the whole day with family making Cucidati, Italian fig cookies. We stopped counting at 500 but I think it was actually close to 600 in the end. I figure if you’re going to do this only once a year you might as well go big!
cucidati dough Everything was prepped the night before so when everyone arrived we could get right down to the business of making and baking the cookies, we knew it would be an all day project.heirloom rolling pins My husband has a soft spot for Cucidati, I did a post way back about them. A tender dough filled with figs, dates, raisins, walnuts or almonds, orange peel or marmalade, dark rum or whiskey, some clove, cinnamon and honey he looks forward to them every year, they’re nostalgic and remind him of his mom. So it was fitting that his sister and cousin brought along two special rolling pins, one was his moms and the other, his aunts, they were with us in spirit.pistachio liqueur  They also brought along some of this fabulous pistachio liqueur to sip as we were baking, it’s become our tradition and it pairs perfectly while you’re taste testing the cookies. ( wink, wink!) Besides fig and pistachio are a perfect match!  making Italian fig cookies After a few minutes everyone got in their groove doing their specific jobs, we had the music going and we started pumping them out!fig cookies before frosting Straight from the oven onto my marble dining room table which was a good spot for them to cool down on.lunch break When we got half way through the dough we stopped for a lunch break of lentil soup and a frittata, then back to work!Italian fig cookies The table started filling up fast after lunch so it was time to get them frosted so the glaze would be completely dry before they got packed into containers.making fig cookies A proud moment, waiting for the last two batches in my oven to come out and then every inch on my dining room table would be filled with fig cookies!cucidaticucidatiItalian fig cookies, cucidati  The best part, enjoying the fruits of our labor!

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  1. What a wonderful tradition! Very few people even know what cucidati are in my neck of the woods!
    I have tasted them first hand, and they are MY favorite! (hint hint).

  2. This looks like a wonderful tradition in your family, Marie. It must be fun to bake together. Are these the same relatives who help you make the large amounts of ravioli?

    I think anyone whose’s family is from Southern Italy knows what cucidati are, even if they might be called something else according to their dialect! 🙂 They are also my husband’s favorite cookie. His Mom made them round, with the filling showing–sort of like a mini pie. No icing, but she put the the sprinkles lightly over the filling. Her filling had “musto” in it –cooked wine. In their town in Calabria they called them “pita” in their dialect. I make them every Christmas. It would not be Christmas without them and baccala…lol!

    • Hi Pat~ Yes!! Pita Nippita from my mom’s family in Calabria. She and all of my aunts are gone now but, I try to make them at least once a year to keep the tradition. We make them like 1/2 moons with the edges pressed down with a fork. They don’t have icing but, are brushed with an egg mix for a glossy topping. No one outside our family is familiar with these cookies so, i was excited when I read PITA!!!

  3. Natalie Bales says:

    GREAT post Marie! Not only the beautiful cucidatti, but the beautiful and warm story and pictures!

  4. Well, Marie, if this is not the best example of “go big or don’t go at all” then I do not know what is. I love seeing the shots of everyone at work, and just to see so many is really wonderful. I bet the Cucidatti are fab. It’s a good thing you made lots! Now I’m really sorry I”m not your neighbor.

  5. Well Marie, this is a wonderful example of how to maintain these traditional recipes while strengthening family ties. It’s a beautiful thing. Not to mention the delicious cookies. Can you adopt me?

  6. You are adopting! Oh please pick me! I love family traditions but don’t have anyone to do them with. By the way I used your recipe for Butternut Squash Ribbons with Spinach Tagliatelle for dinner tonight! Loved it!

  7. Barbara F. says:

    Hi Marie, long time no hear. I love these cookies, they bring me back to my Sicilian roots and speak directly to my Sicilian soul.

  8. Looks like fun. My Italian son-in-law and I have a love for these cookies.

  9. This is a wonderful tradition.

  10. Denise Brosch says:

    What a glorious glorious day! I can smell them here in Cleveland. And I can here faint whispers of the laughing, clinking of the coffee cups and the groans as everyone plopped into their seats when they were done! Incredible job!

  11. Can you freeze these cookies? Any special instructions?!

    • Yes you can Cindy they freeze well, but I wouldn’t frost them until you’re ready to eat them, they’ll look better, sometimes the frosting cracks from freezing.

  12. Those look so good. The communal spirit always makes baking so special. I’m not familiar with these cookies, but “i’d like to try making them someday.

  13. Marie, I so wish I could’ve been there, helping you out! These cookies are one of my very favorite! Each Christmas I make several dozen, using my grandmother’s recipe…..DELICIOUS!! And it’s such a special thing to be in the kitchen with all those different members of your family, making memories and carrying on traditions.

  14. Andrea Fontana says:

    That is the most beautiful array of Cucidati I have ever seen! I can’t imagine a better way to spend the day! We do something similar but on a bit smaller scale! Ha! Thanks for sharing your family tradition!

  15. Kathy Anthony says:

    These are one of our favorite cookies. Your post brought a big smile to my face! Beautiful tradition Marie!

  16. Cucidati are a Sicilian Christmas cookie with a flaky, tender dough. I used to make them with my mama every year. We had no food processor or blender so used a hand turned grinder attached to the kitchen table to grind the filling. That was the hardest part. It consisted of figs, raisins, peanuts, chocolate chips, coffee, cinnamon & spices. They were decorated the same as your picture with icing and sprinkles. Delicioso !!!

  17. This was such a cozy little post. First, that pistachio liqueur… I want! I’ve never EVER had these, but I’m a fig lover. They are such colorful and fun looking cookies. That sunroom looks so cheerful, too! What fun it would be to gather with family and loved ones, for a project like this. Really enjoyed this.

  18. Paul Mangiameli says:

    WOW!!! Such memories. My brother in SF still makes them, and my sisters made some a couple of years back. Italian Sausage is something I still make. Trying to get the nephews and nieces to carry on the traditions. Are any for sale???
    Paul Mangiameli from Houston,Texas

  19. What fun! I would have loved to be looking over your shoulder as you all made these amazing cookies. I can just imagine that they are delicious. What a great tradition.

  20. Marie,
    Such a lovely post. I thought my pizzelle recipe made a lot (about 275 cookies) but yours is way more than that. I’m the one that makes the cookies now and my family and friends are always looking for their little package. I mail some to three of my friends too.

  21. Yay, I have to write down my mom’s recipe for these this year so I can carry on the Christmas tradition. Along with the colorful ball sprinkles, my mom is serious about sprinkling a pinch of only Italian cinnamon on top of them (she hates American cinnamon). These are so great with tea on a cold morning.

  22. I could never have the patience to do this sort of thing. You amaze me. I’d eat these faster than I could make them!

    I want to know where they got the verdenoce liqueur. I had it Convivio restaurant in Manhattan for my birthday three years ago, and have never had it again. It just doesn’t seem to be available in any liquor store in NY. It breaks my heart. Is it available in the Chicago area? I am heading in that direction for Thanksgiving next week…

  23. I like the looks of your Cucidati cookies and would like your recipe. Where can I get it please. Second generation Sicilian and raised very Italian. Am proud of my children who have carried on the family recipes and traditions. They love their roots. We make all the Italian cookies. Our Cucidati cookies are good but I would like your recipe. Continue what you do, I am a
    real fan.
    Ciao buona festi.

    • Elizabeth, I put a link at the end of the post, it’s a recipe very similar to my husbands family.

  24. Hi Marie! You are amazing – what a wonderful tradition you share with family with these special cookies. I think this will be the year I make them. All the best to you and yours for a wonderful holiday season!

  25. C.J.Blanda says:

    love to have a traditional Cucidati, and all what it takes; give some steps Grandma, Francesca Gargano Blanda came from Prizzi province di Palermo Sicilia.

  26. Dianne Moore says:

    For some reason, in my Sicilian family growing up in NY these were called “Wichidata”. Only my aunt made them and when I was younger than 20, I really didn’t care for them. When we migrated to California when I got married, and when she came to be closer to her daughter, she taught me how to make them. The biggest plaudit was when my uncle (her husband) said mine were better than hers. Now I am the only one in the coast to coast family that makes them each year and I ship them to those who love them (including an ex-husband). My current husband of some 31 years is jealous of each one that leaves the house! A few years ago I was enlightened that they were really called Cuccidati. Mine have mostly similar ingredients – dates, figs, raisins, nuts, orange peel and juice, wine, powdered cloves, allspice and cinnamon and pepper. I always mix up the filling on “Black Friday” as I eschew ANY shopping on that day, and usually mix up a couple of batches of dough to get started. Afterwards I bake a batch each day until done. What is different about ours the most is the way the dough is wrapped around the filling and crimped and pinched into a sort of ruffle before baking. I ice half and leave the rest plain for those who prefer without frosting. I save the nonpareils for when I make Struffoli. My aunt has been dead some 20 years now, but at 67 I think I’ll be making these for awhile, yet I need to recruit some younger members of the family to learn the recipe.

  27. Concetta Simonetti Givianpour says:

    It was amazing to see this post. I spent this weekend with my daughter, sister-in – law, niece and cousin making 400 cucidatas. I made them with my dad for years before he passed away. Every year he tweaked his recipe and his last year with us he told me they were the best and to record the receipe. That was 36 years ago. I have taught my daughter and neice to make them in hopes they will continue the tradition.
    I tried to include a picture of my kitchen table full of cucidatas but this application won’t let me. Send me your email and i would love to send a picture of my cucidata table to you.

  28. Where is the recipe?? I def. Want to make this. Thank you for sharing. It reminded me of when I was little and we all helped my dad make his stroffoli and Christmas biscotti… 🙂

  29. Every second Sunday in Nov. we make our Cucidati. They look just like yours but we put on a bit more frosting and different sprinkles…but the idea is the same, I make them small…we used to do them in a cresent shape but to much was wasted, they are to expensive to waste. I soak the figs overnight in Amaretto great flavor, toasted almonds, dates, golden rasins, candied cherries, candied citron, mini semi sweet chocolate, cinnamon not much just a little, orange and orange zest, we use the orange segments to lubricate the meat grinder as we grind everything together. I love these!! I look so forward to our day. I have coffee and apple cider donuts for everyone when the arrive. All my cousin’s come over, my kids, grandchildren, everyone has a job…and the kids decorate which is so darn adorable to watch. I have my oven man, rollers, fillers, cutters…its fun. Another cousin makes sauce, meetballs, sausage, we have salad, bread and do lunch after they are all made waiting to cook (takes a while) and cool then decorate. They freeze beautifully…and are delicious with coffee!!! We made about as much as you…I made tons of dough. And now its become such a tradition. Everyone looks forward to it. I have it the same time so the police and firemen in the family can make sure they are off…its down to a science now. My Aunt helped get this going and I ran with it…afraid to lose this lost art forever. Now we have a written recipe and many who know how to keep the tradition going!!! What fun to see your baking on FB. God bless and Buon Natale!!

    • Hi Roseann, Loved your comment and I could picture everything going on at your home, what a wonderful tradition for you and your family. Memories for truly a life time!

  30. Several years ago I was visiting my daughter who now lives in the Houston area. I met one of her friends who was telling me how her Italian grandparents immigrated through the ports in Galvaston. Our families came through Ellis Island. We got around to talking about food and the “fig cookies” her Grandmother made. She promised to send the recipe to me. As it turned out, the recipe was the same as our Scialian with the exception of 2 things. Her Grandmother used burboun wiskey instead of rum and used pecans instead of almonds. We renamed it Italian Fig Cookies–Texas style.

  31. Wonderful post! I make these every year since I discovered them on your website in 2010. I usually make these on xmas eve and xmas day (prepping the dough and filling and then rolling and baking the next day). This year, however, I will likely make these in January. These are so wonderful and go really quickly in making the cookies once the technique is learned. Your instructions are wonderful and fool proof. Last year, I made these twice, once with the x-shape and once with these nuggets. The nuggets are much faster and I think they are actually more tender. I can’t seem to get my sprinkles from running on the glaze. Maybe you can share your glaze with us? Happy Christmas and Happy New Year to you, Marie!

  32. I made 400 this year. Kept in a cool spot in the basement, they keep till Easter. The original – and best – breakfast energy bar!


  33. Maryann Lidesstri says:

    Hi Marie I love your blog, I am an enthusiastic Italian cook and baker. I do prefer to bake though. I am wondering if you share your Cucidati recipe? I have been using my own version of Marianne Esposito’s I make a fresh fig jam when I can, so good!
    Ciao Marianna

  34. I just found this post when looking for info on freezing cucidati. Wonderful! My sister and my mom used to come to my home every year and we’d spend the day making cucidati, tonalucci, pizzelle and those chocolate spice balls that I don’t know the name of. They’ve been gone almost 20 and 25 years now, but I think of them every year on “cookie day.”

    I add a little semi-sweet chocolate to my filling and sometimes use bourbon, sometimes brandy.