Home Italy Revisited Bookshelf Plays About Mary Melfi Contact Us
Cookies with Nuts
Italian filled fig cookies
Bolero Christmas Cakes (Italian Fig Cookies filled with almonds, hazelnuts and flavored with orange juice and zest)
Originated from: Sicily and the Italian Mainland
Occasion: Christmas holidays
Contributed by: Adapted from "Italian Cookbook for Quantity Service" by Harry Caleva (1956)

Printer Friendly Version


For pastry dough
1 1/2 pounds (about 6 cups) pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 ounces (about 3/4 cup) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) shortening
2 cups water

For filling
1 pound (about 2 3/4 cups) dry pulled figs, chopped
1/2 pound (about 1 1/2 cups) seedless raisins
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 pound (about 2 cups) blanched roasted almonds
1/2 pound (about 2 cups) blanched roasted hazelnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

For decoration
Glaze (optional)
Colored sprinkles
Icing sugar


For Dough

Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

Cut in shortening; slowly add sufficient water to make a medium soft dough; knead until smooth.

Divide dough into three parts; form balls; wrap with plastic wrap.

Allow the dough to rest in the fridge for an hour before using.

For Filling

Combine all filling ingredients and using food chopper grind coarsely (If it's too dry add a teaspoon of water to moisten). Set aside.

To make fig cookies

Preheat oven to 375 F. degrees.

Roll out 1 part of dough into rectangle about 1/4 inch thick; cut into strips 4 inches wide; place filling inc enter of strip (1/4 inch thick by 3/4 inch wide).

Fold dough over filling; press edges together.

Cut diagonally into 3-inch pieces.

Slit top of dough through center; flute slit.

Roll out balance of dough to 1/8-inch thickness, cut with fancy cutters; making two of same pattern.

Spread filling one piece sand covering with matching pieces; press well together.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet in moderate oven (375 degrees F.).

Remove from oven, dust with sprinkles and powdered sugar.


The recipe in this entry was adapted from one published in the cookbook, "Italian Cookbook for Quantity Service, Authentic Professional Recipes" by Harry Caleva (New York: Ahrens Publishing, 1956). The cookbook can be borrowed for free on the on-line public library, www.openlibrary.org.... P.S. Even though the cookbook author, Harry Caleva, called these cookies "Christmas Cakes, Bolero" they are very similar to the traditional Christmas fig cookies made in Sicily called "cucidati." His flavoring for this style of cookies is very good. In his recipe he suggests to decorate the cookies with sprinkles and icing sugar as soon as they are removed from the oven. I tried doing this but the sprinkles did not stick to the dough. So I make a thin lemon glaze and that solved the problem..... Photo: Mary Melfi.

Back to main list