Monday, December 7, 2009

Fig Cookies (AKA Cuccidati)

With December upon us, it seems the time to post the recipe for fig cookies, which are customary in Italian families for Christmas as well as any other holiday or special occasion. Although they take a lot of time, they are well worth it. The first thing to do is make the filling.

Grind 2 lb. figs, 1 lb. dates, 1 lb. raisins (I use golden raisins), 2 oranges with the skin. Add to this mixture 1 c. chopped walnuts and a syrup make of 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups water (make the syrup in a pan on top of the stove, then cool before adding to the mixture -- add 2 shots of whiskey to the cooled mixture before adding it all to the ground mixture). This mixture should be made several days ahead to allow the flavors to blend. Keep it covered in the refrigerator utnil the day you make the cookies, then bring it to room temperature before using it.

To make the dough: Ingredients are as follows.
12 cups flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups Crisco
1/2 cup butter
2 Tblsp. pure vanilla extract
12 tsp. baking powder
6 eggs at room temperature
about 1 cup milk

Beat eggs and vanilla together. In a separate bowl cut the Crisco and butter into the dry ingredients. Add the egg/vanilla mixture and then add milk as needed to make a nice dough.

Roll out a small amount of dough at a time on a lightly floured surface, making a small rectangle. Place about a finger width of filling along the edge of the dough nearest to you, and then roll it away from you once. Cut the row away from the rest of the dough with a sharp knife. Roll the filled dough several times back and forth to make sure that the seam underneath is sealed. Cut cookies from the log you have just made, about 1 or 1 1/2" wide. Bake on lightly greased cookie sheets at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

For frosting: Mix together 1 lb. or so of powdered sugar with 1 Tblsp. melted butter, 1/2 tsp. vanilla and enough milk to make it frosting consistency -- not thick like frosting for a cake, but not as thin as a glaze. When frosting, use your fingers to "paint" the top of the cookie, then trim with multi-colored sprinkles or chopped nuts.

These cookies taste best when the dough is rolled fairly thin. You can sometimes purchase the filling already ground at a real Italian deli, but then you are not as sure as to the quality of the ingredients or the taste. If you have dough leftover, you can make white cookies shaped like those described in November's post.

Fig cookies look beautiful on a platter of mixed Christmas cookies. They are like little colorful logs and taste so good. One of the most meaningful compliments that I ever received was from an Italian woman who had eaten many a fig cookie in her life. She told me that these were the best that she had ever tasted!

As always, if you have any questions please either leave a comment or send an email to and I will do my best to help. Merry Christmas to all from Cookie Rose!