Homemade Cucidati a Sicilian Fig Cookie Tradition

cucidati fig cookies When I think of holiday baking the first cookie that comes to my mind is cucidati, a Sicilian fig cookie filled with a mixture of nuts, dates, figs, raisins, spices and a few different flavorings and all that goodness is wrapped in a tender buttery dough that’s baked, frosted and sprinkled.

In my family this is a cookie that has memories attached to it, just the smells alone evoke fond thoughts of a mother long gone who lovingly made these for her family throughout their childhood for special occasions and holidays.

It’s about wanting to keep up that tradition and then handing it down to generation after generation.

cucidati Italian fig cookies So for that reason when I make them I go big and it’s a family affair. We start early in the morning and it becomes a whole day of baking. I think the most we made in a one day was 600.

Every one brings their own containers to take their cookies home, many will be gifted out to other family members and friends who look forward to our baking lollapalooza.

I like finding different tins to put them in and I always layer the cookies between wax paper.

fig paste

We have it down to a science now and everyone has their own jobs to do that they’re comfortable with, from making the filling, rolling the cookies, watching the oven, frosting them and adding the sprinkles. I always prep the dough the night before so that job is out of the way, I make at least ten batches.

cucidati Italian fig cookies I line my dining room table with sheets of wax paper and by the time we’re finished every inch gets covered and then some!

cucidati Italian fig cookies The one rule we have is that no one takes any home until the frosting has completely hardened, otherwise they’ll just get ruined when you’re packing them up.

cucidati Italian fig cookies

We even made some with white on white for a more classic look, wouldn’t these would look nice set out at an Italian wedding?

cucidati Italian fig cookiescucidati Italian fig cookies The smell of them baking lasted for days in my house!

cucidati Italian fig cookies

Because of the overwhelming requests for this recipe, I’ve posted it below along with all my tips.

Happy Baking! 

CUCIDATI

The Dough
TIP: (My handed down family recipe used Crisco because that was very common then, but today all I use is butter in the dough and we like it so much better!)
 4 cups all-purpose flour
 2/3 cup sugar
 1 teaspoon baking powder
 1 teaspoon salt
 8 ounces cold unsalted butter or 2 sticks, cut into pieces
 4 large eggs
Put flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade; pulse just to mix. Add the butter pieces and pulse. Add eggs and pulse until dough forms a ball on the blade. Remove from processor and knead briefly on a lightly floured work surface until smooth. Shape dough into a log shape and wrap in plastic and put into fridge overnight or use after it chills well.

TIP:(It’s great to work with when it’s chilled, if you leave it on the counter which I’ve done in the past the butter warms up and rolling it is a nightmare of stickiness, so take out one batch at a time. You might have to whack it with the rolling pin to break it down a bit but believe me it works and rolls much better. Making the dough ahead is especially good when making large amounts like I do, plus it will free up your food processor for the filling.
The Filling
 One 12-ounce package dried Calimyrna or Mission figs, snip off the hard end of stem
 ½ cup of dates, remove pits
 1/2 cup un-blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
 1/3 cup apricot preserves or orange marmalade
 ½ cup plump golden raisins
 1/4 cup candied orange peel, diced ( you can find this on line if you can’t find it in the baking isle, or just used grated orange peel and more marmalade, but I love this addition)
 1/3 cup of honey if you want it sweeter
 1/4 cup dark rum or whiskey
 1 teaspoon cinnamon
 TIP: ( My advice is to taste as you go along maybe adding more or less of the ingredients, my favorite is using whisky)
Instructions for filling
Remove stems from figs and cut the figs into medium-size dice. Put figs and remaining filling ingredients into the food processor and pulse with the metal blade until finely chopped; if you want to do this the day before go right ahead, it gives the flavors a chance to meld together.
To assemble the cookies
Cut your log of dough into 12 pieces and try to roll it out into a 3” by 12” rectangle. Then take the fig filling and scoop it out or make a fig log right down the middle onto the rectangle of the dough and roll it up placing it seam side down.
Cut cookies into 1 1/2 inch pieces, you can cut them into a square or on an angle, then place the cookies on parchment lined cookie sheets and bake at 350 for 15 minutes, till bottoms are nicely golden.
The Frosting
One whole bag of confectioners’ sugar mixed with milk to get the right consistency, sort of thick, not watery.
Non-perils for sprinkling

This recipe makes 4-5 dozen.
Make icing but don’t ice them until the cookies are completely cool from the oven,(important!) Spread a little icing onto each cookie, I like to use a pastry brush instead of dipping which gives me more control and it controls some of the sweetness because the filling is sweet also, then sprinkle the nonpareils on the top of the wet frosting but over a bowl otherwise you’ll see them all over your floor.

Pack them into tins only when frosting is completely hardened between wax paper layers, I repeat, let them dry completely!!

These can be made ahead of time to freeze but please do not frost then until you’re ready to serve. I don’t freeze mine I store then in the tins like I said between wax paper and keep the tins in a cool place, like my garage.
Happy Holiday Baking!

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Cranberry Amaretto Clafoutis

cranberry amaretto clafoutis The holidays are upon us and I have just the dessert to impress your guests, a Cranberry Amaretto Clafoutis.

A clafoutis has all the makings of a very elegant dessert yet it can be very rustic also. What’s a clafoutis? It’s a French dessert that’s custard and flan like, it can be filled with a variety of different fresh fruit and when baked the sweet batter gets nice and puffy all around the fruit tasting very light and pudding like.

cranberry amaretto clafoutis ingredients It may look decadent but it’s a fooler because it’s neither heavy or overly sweet and that’s what I love about it, and to top it off,  it’s super easy to make!

cranberry amaretto clafoutis Slivered almonds embed themselves into the sweet and puffy batter that’s flavored with sweet almond liqueur that pairs so well with the slightly tart cranberries, this is screaming put on the coffee guests are stopping by!

cranberry amaretto clafoutiscranberry amaretto clafoutis

Scoop some out and serve it alongside fresh whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or as is, either way you’re going to love it, holiday cooking has officially begun!

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5.0 from 2 reviews
Cranberry Amaretto Clafoutis
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups fresh whole cranberries
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups, whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons, melted butter and a little extra for buttering pan
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of amaretto or 1 teaspoon of almond extract, or 1 Tablespoon amaretto and ½ teaspoon of almond extract combined.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • confectioners sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 F. then butter your baking dish or ovenproof skillet.
  2. In a bowl combine flour, eggs, melted butter, baking powder, salt, milk, vanilla, amaretto or almond extract and half a cup of the sugar. Beat on high speed with a hand mixer until well combined. Set aside and let it rest.
  3. Take remaining quarter cup of sugar and coat it all over the cranberries, toss it into the buttered skillet and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven.
  4. Give the batter one more whirl on high with the hand mixer after its been resting then pour it onto the cooked cranberries.
  5. Sprinkle with almonds then return to oven and bake another 35 minutes.
  6. It will be puffy when taken out of the oven but in a few minutes it will settle down then dust it with the powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream on the side.

 

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Anginetti, Italian Lemon Knot Cookies

anginetti, Italian lemon knots

Iced Italian cookies, lemon drops, lemon knots, wedding knots or anginetti, whatever your family calls them you’ll be sure to find these traditional Italian cookies at many special occasions and holiday cookie trays. Like most Italian cookies the cookie itself is not too sweet, it has a nice moist crumb and by frosting it you’ll get a more intense lemon flavor, which is a good thing!

anginetti, Italian lemon knot cookies

They’re like little puffs, they look the same color from the raw to baked state except they’ll get puffier and golden brown on the bottom.

anginetti, Italian lemon knot cookies

Honestly, there are so many variations to this cookie, just do a Google search and you’ll see what I mean, but the general idea remains the same. In the past I’ve made them with Crisco shortening, that’s what they used back in the day, then I tried some Organic non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, which quite honestly turned out a little drier, I think if I upped the amount they would have been better, but this time I used all butter.

You’ll also see other flavorings used such as almond and anise as well as different colored frosting’s and sprinkles, but my family always sticks with lemon.

anginetti, Italian lemon knot cookies

Instead of colored sprinkles which I normally use, this time I wanted  to do a white on white look by using tiny white nonparells and white sparkling sugar and a little lemon zest for garnish, but you can just stir some zest into your frosting instead.

Speaking of frosting, this time I tried a limoncello frosting which was very good but the traditional with extract, lemon juice and zest is just as good!

anginetti, Italian lemon knot cookies

It’s time to get baking!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Anginetti, Italian Lemon Knot Cookies
 
A traditional Italian cookie served at holidays and special occasions.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 5 cups of all purpose, unbleached flour
  • 5 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • one and one half cups of melted butter that has cooled down, not hot. Or you can use a vegetable shortening of your choice
  • 1 cup of milk
  • a pinch of salt
  • zest of 1 lemon for cookie and zest of 1 lemon for icing
  • 1 1oz. bottle of lemon extract
  • sprinkles of your choice
Instructions
  1. If you like dough can be made the day before and it will be nice and chilled to work with or you can start scooping them right after you make the dough but probably you will have to chill it for a while as you're making the cookies and the dough stays out. I sometimes stick it in the freezer for a few minutes to get it to firm up again.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy, add eggs one at a time, then the extract and zest.
  3. In a smaller bowl whisk the flour, salt and baking powder, then slowly add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, you might not have to use all the milk.
  4. When everything is incorporated, let the dough rest for 5 minutes or wrap and chill overnight.
  5. Heat oven to 350 degrees. and place cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. To form the knots I like to use a cookie scoop so all will be similar in size, then take the scoop of dough and roll it into a log about 5 or 6 inches, it's the length of a bench scraper, that's how I measure mine.
  7. Then take one side of the log and spiral it into a circle, you can tuck the other end down or up, it doesn't matter.
  8. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes according to your oven, mine took exactly 12 minutes, you want the underneath to be golden brown, not dark brown.
  9. Cool on racks.
  10. LIMONCELLO ICING
  11. One and one half cups of powdered sugar
  12. Five tablespoons of limoncello Liqueur
  13. zest of 1 lemon
  14. TRADITIONAL LEMON ICING
  15. One and one half cups of powdered sugar
  16. zest of 1 lemon
  17. One half teaspoon of lemon extract
  18. and lemon juice to get the right consistency.
  19. I always taste my icing to make sure it has the right amount of lemon, you can always add more, and I also like to brush my icing on instead of dipping., personal preference.
  20. After frosting immediately put your sprinkles on and then let the whole cookie dry for about an hour.
  21. You can keep them in tins with wax paper in between, or you can freeze them in an airtight container right after they bake and cool down, then frost them a day or two ahead before you'll be eating them.

 

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