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! 


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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Merry Christmas! And the Winner is…

cucidadi, Italian fig cookies

Just a quick post during this busy week to wish you all a very blessed holiday and a very Merry Christmas! I’ve baked enough cookies, especially those cucidati pictured above and now I’m ready to sit back and enjoy the time with my family and friends.

I’ll be back here after Christmas but if you want to see what I’m cooking up during the week, and especially this week, you can always find me on Instagram.

So without further adieu, the lucky winner of the beautiful Lagostina Risotto Pot is……… CHRIS MARCHESE!!!  Congratulations Chris, you’re going to love that gorgeous risotto pot!

I will be contacting you by email to get your address so the company can send it directly out to you.


The Inaugural Italian Gals Cookie Exchange

Italian cookies This cookie platter is the result of four Italian gals chatting on Facebook about some of the cookies we were baking, Adri, Linda, Domenica and myself.

Over the years we have formed friendships through the world of blogging, and have expressed several times how fun it would be if we could cook and bake together.

Almost immediately Linda  suggested we do a cookie exchange through the mail, we all loved the idea and within minutes Linda took charge and sent us all an email with instructions for the first, Inaugural Italian Gals Christmas Cookie Exchange!

Each person was to bake and mail two dozen cookies to three people. The cookies should be the type that ships well, something like pizzelle would be too fragile. Then place them into a tin of some sort and send them either Fedex or U.S. Mail, she even listed the rates for us.

We baked them just a couple of days before we sent them out for optimum freshness and not too long after boxes started arriving at my front door!

cookies by mail Beautiful boxes wrapped in ribbons with cards.

Italian cookie exchange

This tin was from Adri, the cookies are called, Three Nut Fingers, a recipe she adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s book called, Rose’s Christmas Cookies, they are filled with almonds, hazelnuts and pecans and she even added in a little Frangelico, they were heavenly! Here’s Adri’s version.
Italian cookie exchange The next day I received this tin of crunchy Cranberry-Hazelnut Biscotti, a recipe Domenica adapted from her new and forthcoming book called Ciao Biscotti, which will be released this March, ( you can pre-order now) how lucky were we to be able to taste a recipe from her new book. Wonderful with morning coffee or tea!

Italian cookie exchange And last but not least Linda’s, Italian Christmas “Brownies” glazed with Lemon Icing. A cookie filled with chocolate and pungent spices, a perfect after dinner treat, it even includes a surprise ingredient that makes the flavor even more intense and delicious.

fig filling for cucidati My contribution to the cookie exchange was Cucidati, a traditional Italian cookie originating from Sicily that I make every year with family, it’s filled with figs, nuts, dates, orange, raisins and spices along with a little rum or whiskey to top it off.

making Italian fig cookies They’re a labor of love and can be time consuming to make, so when we do it we do it big, at least 400 or more so that everyone will have a good amount to take home and share. It’s become an annual event at my house where we spend the whole day baking Cucidati from early morning until late afternoon. We start out drinking coffee but end up sipping Dumante ( a pistachio liqueur) before the day is over. It’s a fun day and we look forward to it every year!


Italian fig cookies My tables and counters quickly get filled up with these figgy little gems!

boxing up Italian fig cookies I actually whipped up a fresh batch of cucidati for my Italian Gals cookie exchange two days before I mailed them. I layered them in a box with lots of waxed paper in between and they all arrived safely!

Italian cookies So you see, you don’t have to live near each other to have a cookie exchange, you can do it through the mail like we did, though you might want to limit the amount of people involved due to shipping costs.

Italian cookies This was so much fun, and it was the next best thing to us all being in one of our kitchens and baking together!

Italian cookie platter


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!

Here’s the recipe


Holiday Baking has Begun!

I don’t consider myself a baker, using exact measurements is a difficult thing for me to do, as regular readers of my blog well know, but there are certain things I must bake every holiday season and one thing is Italian fig cookies or Cucidati, they’re truly a family favorite.
I’ve posted them a few times before but since my blog chronicles my life in food I thought I’d share some recent pic’s of the day we made them. I say “we” because I never make them alone, always with family, we make a day of it, we start early, I usually always make a pot of soup or chili to eat for lunch because we go way beyond lunch time!

I have a big dining room table, I clear everything off and cover it with wax paper, after they cool on racks they get placed there waiting to be frosted.

There were four of us, we ended up making a little over 400, we started at 9:00am and ended at 4pm, not bad! We each took 100 plus for ourselves.
We started off drinking coffee as we worked.
But as the day went on we were sipping this! Have you tried? Dumante, it’s a pistachio liqueur, luxurious, smooth and might I add, it went very well with our cucidati taste testing!
I love it so much I made a zabaione with it a couple of days later, a light boozy custard usually made with marsala wine, but I replaced it with Dumante Verdenoce.
Here’s how you make it in case you happen to pick up a bottle.
1/4 cup of Dumante** 1/4 cup granulated sugar** 1/4 cup heavy cream** 3 egg yolks**
Set up a pan of simmering water** place a heat safe bowl on top of the water filled with all the ingredients** whisk the mixture continuously over simmering water, not boiling.** cook until you get a consistency of a thin pudding with the internal temp of 145 degrees** remove and continue whisking until you reach room temperature** if it’s too thick add cream or water.**
I make the same recipe every year for the fig cookies, it’s so similar to my mother-in laws except butter is replaced for the Crisco that she always used, here’s the link.
We never made them in the form of X’s but rather like above. You can change up the nuts, sometimes I use walnuts instead, and in place of orange peels I find a good orange marmalade to work wonderfully, you could also replace whiskey for the rum. As I mentioned before we never put chocolate in ours but it’s optional.
We always glaze them by using confectioners sugar mixed with water or milk, vanilla, and sometimes a little anise extract. Non- perils for sprinkling.
Happy Holiday Baking!


From My Kitchen To Yours…

Ok just one more cookie! At the last minute I caved in and made some Cucidati, I wasn’t going to make them at all this year but I was slightly coerced by my brother-in-law and husband who were giving me a guilt trip.

Cucidati are traditional Italian fig cookies very popular at Christmas time consisting of a tender dough that wraps around a thick and flavorful filling of figs, raisins, almonds, orange peel and a few other things that are laced with brandy and warm spices.

On a cold winter day my house quickly warmed up with the scent of cucidati baking in the oven. I don’t know what I was thinking, it just wouldn’t be the same without a few of these gracing our table!

In the end I made two people very very happy that day, and isn’t that the
real reason why we cook anyway?

Here’s my favorite recipe.

I want to take this time to wish each and everyone of you a most delicious holiday filled with lots of love and happiness!
From my kitchen to yours,


Cucidati! (Italian Fig Cookies)

Whether you call them Cucidati, Sicilian X Cookies, or just plain Italian Fig Cookies, the end result is the same. Tender sweet dough, that’s wrapped around a very flavorful spiced fig filling.

This is a favorite in many Italian households, and hands down this is my hubby and his brothers


favorite cookie! I think it’s mostly nostalgic, because it reminds them so much of their mom, in fact they call them “Moms cookies”. Weeks before, my BIL will call me and plead ” Are you gonna make mom’s cookies this year? Let’s make mom’s cookies! What do you need? What should I buy? We’ll help you! Normally their idea of helping is spending 5 minutes in the kitchen then popping a DVD in, and every so often I would hear one of them say, “How’s it going up there? “Got any done yet?” Well this year I decided to call their bluff and said I would make them if they help. I think they now have total appreciation for all the work that goes into it!


To make these, you need to set aside the whole day, it’s very time consuming especially if you triple the recipe, which we did. You can however, make the dough and the filling a day ahead of time which I will do next year.



I decided to use Nick Malgieri’s recipe for the dough using butter instead of shortening as my MIL use to do. As far as the filling goes there are a ton of different versions and the way families make them, some even add chocolate but my MIL never did so I make them without.
You can’t go wrong with all or any of the ingredients incorporated with the figs, I’ve had many friends versions I tasted, all slightly different but still taste amazing.
I always taste to see if I want more or less of anything in the process and you should to.
The dough is tender, and easy to work with, and a breeze to make in the food processor!

For the filling, some of the ingredient’s are, golden raisin’s, candied orange peel, toasted and chopped almonds.

Apricot preserves, dark rum or brandy, instant espresso, cinnamon and cloves.

I made my BIL chop up the figs. Nice job UJ!

All the ingredients get whirled together in the food processor and the end result is a thick and flavorful fig paste!

The dough and fig paste gets divided up equally.

One at a time on a floured surface, you flatten each piece of dough and roll it out into a rectangle. Next, roll your fig paste into a log, lay the log on top of the dough, seal the edges and roll it out into a cylinder. Cut them as big as you want.

Here’s our finished project. just waiting for the frosting to dry. You don’t have to frost them, but we like them that way. Needless to say, the 2 brothers were very happy!!




Happy Baking!