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Cucidati – Italian Fig Cookie Recipe

Today I’m pleased to bring you a giveaway. Yay, finally! It’s been quite a while since I’ve partnered with a brand to bring you an exciting giveaway. Baker’s Mat is generously giving away two of their mats to two very lucky readers. I’ll give you more details on the contest at the end of the post here, but for now, let’s talk a little about this recipe and why I’m bringing it to you today.

Cucidati - Italian Fig Cookie Recipe

Later this month on March 19th, it will be St. Joseph’s Day. While this holiday isn’t widely celebrated in the US, it is celebrated in some cities, New Orleans being one of them. Italians, namely Sicilians, celebrate St. Joseph’s Day in a big way. It’s primarily Catholics who continue to hold the celebrations and rituals on this day. You can read on Wikipedia if you’re interested in the religious background of it.

The most notable way St. Joseph’s Day is celebrated in New Orleans is through the use of altars that are set up around the city in various churches, private residences and businesses. These altars are put up a couple of days before St. Joseph’s Day, and this time period is called the Feast of St. Joseph. The altars contain many food items, especially baked goods like cookies and breads. They are constructed to pay homage to St. Joseph and to show gratitude for the abundance they’re able to share with the community via these altars.

Cucidati - Italian Fig Cookie Recipe

Most churches that have altars also have huge feasts on St. Joseph’s Day to feed folks who stop by to pay their respects. It’s typically something like a spaghetti dinner (of course, since we’re talking about Italians!) or another comparable communal meal. I’m actually looking into volunteering on St. Joseph’s Day to help with one of these celebrations. I’ll have a full post on St. Joseph’s Day the end of the week of March 17th. So more on all that later including detailed info on all the goings-on of that week. I know you probably still have so many questions about it. Trust me, we will cover it in more detail once I can show you what I mean.

Cucidati - Italian Fig Cookie Recipe

So let’s get into how this recipe comes into play. Cucidati – Italian Fig cookies – are one of the items that you’re likely to find on the St. Joseph’s altars around the city. They’re a traditional Italian cookie that’s sort of like a shortbread cookie wrapped around a fig-date-nut filling combination. These are one of my favorite cookies of all time. Best part is that we can get them here in New Orleans at Angelo Brocato’s, a local gelato shop and sweets bakery. So when I don’t have time to bake them but have a jonesing, I can get my fix. Brocato’s is a New Orleans icon, and I just love their variety of Italian cookies, pastries and gelato. Yum, yum!

Today’s recipe is my contribution to the St. Joseph’s celebrations. If you’re inclined to bake these over the weekend before St. Joseph’s Day, be my guest. They do take some time to prepare, but two-thirds of the time is inactive so it’s similar to bread making in how you must spend your time with it. Because this is a short dough, it needs to chill so that the butter can harden so that the dough can be rolled. These aren’t your standard “drop” cookies. They’re a bit more involved. Although they do take some time and work to make, I think you’ll find them to be worth the effort.

Cucidati - Italian Fig Cookie Recipe

My favorite part about the cookies has got to be the filling. Even though they’re called fig cookies, they also contain dates and raisins in some pretty significant amounts. Rounding out the filling are pecans, walnuts, Cointreau, honey and some spices. Thankfully the food processor does most of the work here – it’s a pretty dense filling. This also goes into the fridge while the cookie dough is in the fridge because you want the filling to be rather firm so that it’s easier to work with. When at room temperature, the filling is a bit more sticky and challenging to work with. Keeping all the ingredients cold for this recipe will be the key to success.

Cucidati - Italian Fig Cookie Recipe

If you’re curious about how I liked my mat, your wait is over: I loved it! Really, it was all rather serendipitous that Baker’s Mat contacted me when they did. I already had this cookie post planned in my recipe rotation so it’s nice that it worked out so well. Prior to having this Baker’s Mat, I always just used Silpat. They’ve been around longer, and that was just the brand I was familiar with. But I have to say, I like my Baker’s Mat better. For one, the mat doesn’t seem to get as sticky as a Silpat does. No matter how many times I wash my Silpat, it’s still greasy. This one is not like that – it cleans up more easily. Also, I just love the green and white color tones. They make me think of pleasant spring and summer weather. I was pleased with the performance of my mat, and I’m really glad to have one. I may end up doing even more baking as a result!

Cucidati - Italian Fig Cookie Recipe

So now to the REALLY important stuff – the giveaway! As I said at the top, Baker’s Mat is giving two lucky winners one mat each. All you have to do is enter in the Rafflecopter widget below. I have one mandatory question for you to answer then the rest are optional bonuses for additional entries. Also, we’re going to run a two-week contest so that we can garner even more interest in this giveaway. But that does also mean even more chances for you to win because I do have a daily option below for tweeting about the contest. Score!

Cucidati - Italian Fig Cookie Recipe

I hope you give these cookies a try. Let me know if you do, I’m interested to hear about your experiences with it. Good luck and happy contest-ing! 🙂

To learn more about Baker’s Mat, you can check out their website plus you can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Cucidati - Italian Fig Cookie Recipe

Cucidati is a delicious Italian fig cookie recipe that's a true classic. This hearty cookie also contains pecans, raisins, walnuts, honey, and dates.

Ingredients:

Cookies:

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups raw sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold; cut into cubes
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Filling:

  • 1 cup dried figs, quartered, stems removed first
  • 1 cup pecan pieces
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dates, quartered
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup Cointreau
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Finishing the Cookies:

  • 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Multi-colored nonpareil sprinkles

Method:

Cookie Dough:

  1. In a large mixing bowl lightly stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar and kosher salt with a wire whisk. This is just to make sure the ingredients are well mixed and even dispersed throughout.
  2. Cut in the butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender. You want to work it to the point where the butter is mostly worked in and the dough looks like a coarse floury meal.
  3. Gently stir in the beaten eggs, milk and vanilla extract with a fork until the mixture forms a soft dough.
  4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and give it a little light kneading, until dough comes together in a nice ball. The dough will be a bit sticky. That’s okay.
  5. Divide this dough into four equal-sized pieces, gently form each into a small ball, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

Filling:

  1. Add figs, pecans, raisins, dates and walnuts to a food processor. Grind until it’s a coarse paste.
  2. Scrape into a mixing bowl and add the Cointreau, honey, lemon zest, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Mix well with a spatula to combine.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the cookies, at least one hour.

Assembling the Cookies:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 ºF.
  2. Remove the dough from the fridge one dough ball at a time - keep the others cold as you work with each one because they are much easier to work with cold.
  3. Scatter some flour on the surface where you’re rolling out the dough. It will help mitigate the stickiness of the dough. With a rolling pin, roll each dough ball into a long thin shape - about 16” x 4” in diameter and about 1/4” thick.
  4. Add 1/2 cup of filling down the center of each strip. Use your fingers to work it into a long thin strip of filling. The diameter of the filling should be about an inch or so.
  5. Fold one long side over the other and pinch the seams shut on all sides. Turn roll seam-side down and press the dough gently to flatten the seams. This will allow the cookies to bake best and look most attractive once done.
  6. Using a floured knife, cut the cookies into 1 1/2" pieces and arrange about an inch apart on a baking sheet lined with a Baker’s Mat or parchment paper. For a standard sized baking sheet, you should be able to fit 18 cookies on the mat per batch.
  7. Repeat until done with all the cookies and filling. As you fill up a baking sheet, place it in the oven and bake for 18 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes then glaze and top with colored sprinkles.

Finishing the Cookies:

  1. While the cookies are cooling, combine the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla in a small bowl. Use a fork to stir until smooth. Set aside until cookies are ready to be iced.
  2. Once cookies have cooled for 10 minutes and are ready to ice, use an icing spatula to smear the icing on the top of the cookies then sprinkle with colored nonpareils while icing is still wet. The icing will set rather quickly so only work in batches of 3-4 cookies at a time.
  3. Allow cookies to cool completely before storing in an air tight container. They will taste best the day they are made, but they will keep for one week in the fridge. Layer cookies in the container with wax paper or parchment paper for best results.

Prep:1 hour

Cook:18 min

Total:3 hour 18 min

Print Recipe

Disclaimer: Baker’s Mat financially compensated me to create this recipe, write the review and host the contest. However, all opinions expressed here are sincere and  my own. This post also contains affiliate links.

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