My Favorite Italian Christmas Desserts

christmas cookies

What would the holidays be without our favorite sweet treats? They’re treasured family traditions with special memories attached in every bite. We all have our favorite cookies and Christmas desserts that we fondly remember having during holidays of past, so I’m sharing a few of mine because it just wouldn’t be Christmas time without them.

Through out the years I created some of my own Christmas dessert traditions and ones that I intend to keep making each year, plus I’m always on the look out for something new, so stay tuned!

pandoro christmas cake

Italian Christmas Tree Cake with Lemon Curd and Limoncello

Pandoro Christmas Tree Cake with Amaretto and Mascarpone Whipped Cream

 

puff christmas cookies

 

Puff Cookies

fig biscotti

 

Fig and Pistachio Biscotti
rosette cookies

Rosette Christmas Cookies

anginetti cookies

Anginetti, Italian Lemon Knot Cookies

anise biscotti

Anise Biscotti

fig cookies

Cucidati, Sicilian Fig Cookies

pizzelle cookies

Pizzelle

cappucino biscotti

Cappuccino Biscotti

Happy baking everyone!

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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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