Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cucidati - Fig Cookies

Originally uploaded by watchjennybake.
I have been wanting to make these cookies for several years and finally got my act together. They are a little time consuming because the dough and filling have to be made ahead of time. I think the flavor is nice - the spices and sweetness are a good balance with the dough, but these are more adult cookies than for kids. They remind me of the mincemeat-filled cookies my Grandma sometimes makes during the holidays.

According to the cookbook, cucidati are the Sicilian version of buccellati, which means "little bracelets."

from A Baker's Field Guide to Christmas Cookies

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/ 2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1/4 cup chilled vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
4 large eggs

2 cups dried whole Calimyrna figs (about 14), halved and stemmed
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup blanched or natural whole almonds
1/3 cup dark raisins
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup 100 percent apricot spreadable fruit
1/4 cup diced candied orange peel
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 large egg
coarse sugar
multicolored nonpareils or sprinkles

1. Pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in food processor. With the machine on, add butter and shortening a few pieces at a time through feed tube and process until evenly combined and mixture resembles coarse meal. Pulse in eggs one at a time until mixture forms large, moist clumps. Scrape dough onto large piece of plastic wrap, cover completely with wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

2. To make filling, combine figs, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until figs are fork tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer to food processor and process into a thick, smooth paste. Add almonds and process until nuts are finely chopped within the paste. Add remaining filling ingredients and pulse until combined. (Filling can be made up to 4 days ahead and refrigerated in airtight container).

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Cucidati - dough and figgy filling
4. Divide dough into 8 pieces. Shape each piece by rolling beneath your palm on a lightly floured surface into 1-inch-diameter rope; then roll rope out float with a rolling pin to a 1/4-inch thickness, about 3 inches wide and 20 inches long. Spread filling down center, making a 1-inch-wide x 1/2 inch-thick strip of filling. Fold both sides over the filling and pinch firmly to close. Use hands to squeeze the cylinder gently and roll back and forth to coax into a round shape; have seam side down. Make slashes at 1/4-inch intervals all along the pastry, then cut into 3-inch lengths. Place 1 inch apart on cookie sheets and bend into a crescent shape. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Cucidati - unbaked cookies ready
5. To make topping, whisk egg until frothy. Brush egg on cookies and sprinkle with coarse sugar, sprinkles, or nonpareils. Bake until light golden brown around edges and on bottom, about 20 minutes. Slide parchment onto racks to cool completely.

The only change I made to this recipe was to use orange juice instead of water, because I didn't have candied orange peel but still wanted an orange flavor element. It seemed to work fine.

I'm not sure these cookies will prove good enough to warrant going into the JennyBakes Family Annual Tradition for holiday baked goods, but I'm still glad I made them!

Categories: Cookies, Figs, Holiday


David T. Macknet said...

Thanks for the pictures - I'd wondered how to get these guys rolled out like that!

Anonymous said...

So beautiful and festive. Beats the hell out of fig newtons for sure.

Marija said...

I love your palm trees very much! They are so cute :)