I was so happy to stumble across this recipe during Christmas time. I saved it and forgot about it until January 5th. Oops.
These cookies bring me back to memories in Lidia’s kitchen, our Italian godparents. She and her husband were from Sicily and Naples so in my opinion, they made the best food in the world. She is probably the big reason I became a chef.
But, anyway back to Christmas Eve eating homemade pasta in Lidia’s house. It was the.best.thing.ever. If you’ve never had homemade pasta, please put it on your bucket list. After overeating pasta, we sat for hours talking (well the adults did) and we waited for the desserts. At Lidia’s house that meant biscotti, pannetone, and these jewels- Cucidati fig cookies. They are sort of like fig newton cookies but taken up a notch. The filling is a combo of candied orange, dates, figs, and chopped up almonds. I love citrus during Christmas because it seems to lighten some heavier flavors.
Sadly we don’t go to Lidia’s anymore but she made a great impression on me. I made these cookies for the first time and was taken back to the warmth of that house. Lots of food, a table too big for a small house, and family…and chaos surrounding it all.
I think I’ll be making these each Christmas now, at least for Armenian Christmas beacause that’s what I did this year! Hope you enjoy this memory at Lidia’s!
Cucidati (Sicilian Fig Cookies)
For the dough:
- ½ cup unsalted butter at room temp
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg at room temp
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
For the fig filling:
- 1 cup dried Calimyrna or Mission figs, stems remoed and diced (6 or 7 oz. package)
- ½ cup chopped pitted dates, finely chopped (can sub raisins)
- ½ cup orange juice, fresh squeezed (about 1 orange)
- ⅓ cup diced candied orange peel
- 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- ⅓ cup blanched almonds, chopped fine
- 2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier (optional)
For the lemon glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 tsp. lemon juice (add more if needed)
- sprinkles for decoration if desired
To make the dough-
1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Then, add the sugars till combined. Add the egg and vanilla just until mixed in. Scrape down the bowl once or twice. Then, add the flour, baking soda, and salt in 3 additions, mixing on low to incorporate.
2. Divide the dough into two. Form into a 2 rectangles. Cover each half with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight.
To make the filling-
1. In a small pot, add together everything up to the cinnamon. Bring to a boil over medium heat until it bubbles. Let it bubble for about 5 minutes. Add a bit more orange juice if the mixture looks dry.
2. Then remove from the heat, add the almonds and Grand Marnier, if using. Cool to room temperature.
You can make this a day ahead and store it in the refrigerator.
To assemble and bake-
1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Remove dough from fridge 10-15 minutes before rolling out.
2. Roll out the dough into a rectangle, about 14X10 inches (as best you can). Roll out dough in between parchment or wax paper so you don’t have to use flour.
3. Working quickly to not warm the dough, place the filling in a mound down the center of the dough. Use half of the filling for each rectangle piece. Roll up the dough over the filling so the dough overlap each other on the top. Press to seal.
4. Transfer the “log” seam side down onto a parchment lined baking tray. Repeat with the other piece of dough and last half of the filling.
5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
6. Remove from oven and slice each log immediately into 1-inch pieces using a thin knife. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.
1. Make lemon glaze by combing powdered sugar and lemon juice. Add more lemon juice if it’s too thick. It should have the consistency of heavy cream.
2. Use a brush to brush glaze on each cookie and top with sprinkles. Let cool and the icing will harden.
You did it!
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens recipe published in Christmas Cookies, 2003.