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Cookies with Nuts
Sicilian cucidati cucciddati fig cookies
Cucidati/Cucciddati (Sicilian fig cookies or filled pastries made with dried figs, walnuts, honey and orange zest)
Originated from: Sicily, Italy
Occasion: Christmas and other times
Contributed by: Adapted from "La Tavola Italiana" by Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow (1988)

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For the pastry dough
2 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup (cold) butter
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the filling
1 pound dried figs, mixed with 2 tablespoons water, finely chopped
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 pound walnuts, finely chopped
3/4 cup honey
1/3 cup rum
1 teaspoon cinnamon
finely grated zest of 1 medium orange

For the glaze
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
juice of 2 small lemons

*Yields about 4 dozen cookies


Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

To make the filling

Using an electric chopper, chop walnuts. Keep aside.

Using an electric chopper, chop dried figs with 2 tablespoons of water.

Mix the chopped figs with the chopped walnuts and finely grated orange zest.

Blend in the honey, rum and cinnamon.

Return the mixture to the electric chopper and blend the mixture to a coarse consistency. Keep aside.

To make the pastry

In a bowl mix flour, sugar and baking powder together.

Cut in butter with pastry blender, until the flour mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

Add the beaten eggs, vanilla and milk and work into a smooth dough.

Divide the dough into 2 portions.

Shape into balls. Wrap with clear plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest for about 1/2 hour in the fridge.

Flour a wooden board and then using a rolling pin roll out the first portion of dough to about 1/4 inch thick.

These filled pastries come in a variety of shapes -- some cooks present them as crescents, others as stars with fillings, but generally, they are presented as rectangular filled cookies or pastries.

To make rectangular filled cookies cut the sheet of dough into 4 inch squares.

On one half of the square spread the filling -- about 1 inch thick.

Fold over the dough and seal with a fork or your fingertips.

Make one inch slices, cutting at a slant.

Other types of shapes can be made using a cookie cutter; the filling is place in the center and then covered with the same dough shape, and then the edges are pressed together. Small slits are then on the top of each cookie.

Repeat the process until all the dough is used up.

Place the filled cookies on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake in a preheated 400 degrees F. oven until done -- about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool.

Make the glaze with icing sugar and lemon juice.

Glaze the cookies and decorate with sprinkles while the glaze is still soft.

Air dry before storing in an appropriate container.


The recipe in this entry was adapted from "La Tavola Italiana" by Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow (New York: W. Morrow, 1988). The cookbook can be borrowed for free from the on-line library, www.openlibrary.org.... I tried this recipe and though I liked the taste of the cookies, I found it difficult to do. As the cookies are sliced before they are baked, getting the 1-inch filling to stay inside the cookies is not that easy. The authors suggest the cookies can also be made by folding over the dough, and then cutting wedges. This is much easier to get right, as all one has to do is use a round-shaped cookie cutter, and then fold over the dough. There might be easier recipes for this style of cookie available on the internet. Still, this one, as it was published by a cookbook author whose family originated from Sicily might be the original way of doing it. It wouldn't surprise me if this recipe might have many variations; pastry chefs can make very decorative cookies using this style of dough and filling..... Personal comments and photo: Mary Melfi.

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