Cucidati

Sicilian Fig-Filled Cookies

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Preparation info

  • Makes about

    4 dozen

    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Great Italian Desserts

By Nick Malgieri

Published 1990

  • About

The name of these filled pastries is Sicilian dialect for buccellati, or “little bracelets.” Popular for Christmas throughout Sicily, cucidati take many different forms. Some are made like ravioli: the filling is placed in mounds on one sheet of dough and another sheet of dough covers the filling before the pastries are cut out around the mounds. The following is a slightly more elaborate version, typical of some Sicilian convent pastries.

Ingredients

    Dough

  • 3⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 12 tablespoons lard or butter ( sticks), cold
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2–3 tablespoons milk

    Filling

  • 2 cups dried figs
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup currants or dark raisins
  • ¼ cup candied orange peel, rinsed and diced
  • ¼ cup almonds, toasted and sliced
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • cup apricot preserves
  • ¼ cup dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

    Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch salt

Method

For the dough, combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder in a bowl and stir to mix. Rub in the lard or butter finely, leaving the mixture powdery. Beat the eggs and 2 tablespoons of the milk to combine in a small bowl and stir into the flour mixture to form a dough. Add 1 tablespoon milk if the dough is too dry. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly a few times. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill while preparing the filling.

For the filling, stem the figs and quarter them. Place in a bowl and cover with boiling water; steep 10 minutes. Drain and chop coarsely in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Combine with the remaining filling ingredients. To prepare in advance, cover tightly with plastic wrap and keep at a cool room temperature or in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll each into a cylinder about 12 inches long. Flour the work surface and the dough lightly and roll it into a rectangle about 14 × 3 inches. Place a line of the filling down the center of each rectangle, using one-twelfth of the filling for each piece of dough. Lift up the long edges of the dough to enclose the filling and pinch to seal. Turn the filled sausage of dough over so that the seam is on the bottom and cut it into 3½- to 4-inch lengths.

Using a sharp paring knife or single-edged razor blade, make a series of diagonal slashes in the top of each little sausage. Pull and twist gently, holding the sausage at each end to open the slashes. Transfer the cucidati as they are formed to paper-lined cookie sheets, curving them into wide horseshoe shapes. For the egg wash, whisk the egg and salt together and paint the cucidati, using a soft brush.

Bake the cucidati in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until they are a light golden color. Cool the cucidati on racks.

Store in tins between layers of wax paper.

Confectioners’ sugar for finishing