Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cucidati (Sicilian Fig Cookies)

I like picking figs.  I like rain.
I do not like picking figs in the rain.
On a stepladder.  (I know!)

Our backyard figs started ripening this week, which is a much-celebrated event in the Ommy Noms household.  The first thing I did after eating one five LOTS of figs straight off the tree was dig up my beloved cucidati recipe.  (Cucidati are fig-filled cookies, similar to Fig Newtons, that are served at Christmastime in Sicily.)

Last year, my filling was a little runny, so it was hard to keep all the fabulous  figginess inside the cookie.  I decided to partially dehydrate my figs this year to counteract that problem.  I simply measured out three cups of figs, cut them each in half, and put them cut-side down on a cookie sheet.  I set my oven to "warm" and slipped those bad boys right in.  After three hours, they were perfect.  My filling was gloriously thick this time around, and the cookies were much easier to keep intact.  (The dehydration process also served to intensify the sweetness of the fruit, so I didn't need to add any sugar to the filling.)


I'm sharing the recipe in its original state, because it's so hard to find a cookie recipe that calls for fresh figs.  If you follow the original recipe, make sure to cook down the filling until it's very thick.  Otherwise, feel free to follow my modifications above.

Fig Cookies
Adapted from Melinda Lee, original source unknown
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

For the cookie dough:
3 cups flour, sifted
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 3gg whites
1 tsp vanilla
For the filling:
3 cups fresh figs, finely chopped ***
1 tbsp orange liqueur
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

To make the dough:
1.  Cream the butter and sugars in a medium bowl until very fluffy.  Beat in the egg whites and vanilla.  Add the cinnamon and salt.  Add the flour 1 cup at a time, stirring after each addition.  Mix until well-incorporated.

2.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.  Meanwhile, prepare the fig filling.

To make the filling:
1.  Simmer the filling ingredients together until thickened, stirring frequently, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Cool but do not chill.

To compose and bake cookies:
1.  When the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350.

2.  Roll out the dough, a small portion at a time, 1/4-inch thick.  Cut into pieces about 2 1/2 inches wide and 3 inches long.  Place a level teaspoon of the fig mixture in the center of each piece of dough, and fold the dough around the filling as though folding a business letter.  Flatten the cookies slightly and place them seam-down, 1 inch apart, on ungreased baking sheets.

3.  Bake about 12 minutes, until cookies are lightly browned and just firm.  Cool on racks.  Top with orange liqueur glaze and sprinkles if desired.

***If fresh figs are unavailable, substitute 2 cups of finely chopped dried figs and add 3/4 cup of orange juice or water to the filling mixture prior to simmering.

Orange Liqueur Glaze
An Ommy Noms original

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp orange liqueur
2 tbsp milk

Combine powdered sugar, orange liqueur, and milk in a small bowl.  Whisk so that no lumps remain.  Glaze should be pourable, but not runny.  If your glaze is too thick, add milk in small increments until desired consistency is reached.
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  1. These look so delicious but I don't have fresh figs available to me... could I use dried ones? Thanks!

  2. Yes, you can! Instead of the fresh figs, you can use two cups of finely chopped dried figs and add 3/4 cup of orange juice or water to the filling mixture. Please let me know how you like them!


  3. Thanks for the tip on dehydrating them. I ran into the same problem. So I froze the filling for a week and then used it and they turned out okay. But I will try your recipe this Christmas.

  4. These look absolutely perfect!! I have to try them out sometime.

  5. Can you make the filling and freeze it for later cookies?

    1. Susan- I have never done that, but I don't see why not. After it's thawed, just boil it down until it's quite thick and you'll be fine.

      You can also freeze the complete, baked cookies if you'd like. I always freeze a few batches of freshly baked cookies to enjoy throughout the year. Then you can just pop them out of the freezer, microwave until they are thawed, and then finish heating them in a toaster oven set to about 350. They taste as good as they do when they are first baked!

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