Making these Italian fig cookies, also known as cucidati, are an annual tradition with my family. As a child, I fondly remember going over to my grandparents house a few weeks before Christmas to spend an entire afternoon baking dozens and dozens of fig cookies with my family. My job when I was young was always to shower the freshly glazed cookies with sprinkles. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been assigned more “difficult” jobs, such as icing the cookies and taking the cookies in and out of the oven. When my grandpa passed away about two years ago, I inherited the most difficult job when it comes to making fig cookies – rolling and cutting the cookies. This was a job that my Grandpa always controlled. I can’t say they look as good as my grandpa’s did, but the still taste great!
When we make fig cookies, we make 4 or 5 batches at a time because we literally have dozens of people who request fig cookies every year. My mom’s friends are so obsessed with them that they hide their stash from their kids so they have them all to themselves. I suppose they are so coveted because we only make them once a year, and it seems to be that unless you are Italian, you don’t make these cookies. If you want to watch a cute video of a little 93 year old woman making fig cookies, check out these links: Part I and Part II.
Italian Fig Cookies
Yields: About 5 dozen
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup milk
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 string of figs
1 pound of dates
1 pound of raisins
2 oranges grated, including juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup confectioners sugar
3 teaspoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoon corn syrup
To make the dough, cream together the shortening and sugar. Add the milk, eggs and vanilla until well incorporated. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix until it forms a sticky dough. Refrigerate the dough at least one hour prior to using. The dough will be much easier to work with when its cold.
To make the fig filling, finely chop the figs, dates and walnuts. Using a microplane or a grater, zest the orange peel into a bowl. Add the juices from the orange into the bowl and set aside. Using a food processor or meat grinder, mix together all of the ingredients until the filling is smooth. It is ok to have some small lumps, but you don’t want big chunks of dates in there. Keep the filling in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the cookies.
When you are ready to make the cookies, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Make a row of fig filling about 2 inches from the border of the dough.
Using a long, thin spatula flip the bottom of the dough over the fig filling and gently pinch. Then, use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter to cut off the remaining dough so you are left with a dough log.
On a diagonal, slice the log into 1 inch segments. Take each cookie and place on a greased cookie sheet.
Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Let them cool completely before icing them.
For the glaze, mix together the powdered sugar, vanilla, corn syrup and enough milk to achieve the desired consistency. You’ll want the icing to be thick enough not to be runny, but still easily spreadable. Using a pastry brush, ice the tops of the cookies and decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Let the icing set completely before storing in an airtight container.
*Just a few of the cookies that we made this year!*
Source: Cooking with Chrissy original.