Sicilian Fig Pastries


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes About


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

The sticky, nutty, Sicilian sweetmeat that forms the middle of these pastries is also wonderful on its own or with salty pecorino cheese. About one-tenth of the sweetmeat will be used to fill the pastries in this recipe, but there is no point making it in small batches as it keeps extremely well for up to a year, so store the rest in your refrigerator. The flavour develops and changes over the months, as the mixture ferments gently with the monthly addition of the dessert wine.


  • 115 g/8 oz/½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 200 g/7 oz/1 cup caster/superfine sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 whole egg or 2 egg yolks, well beaten
  • 15 ml/1 tbsp milk
  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 250 g/9 oz/generous 2 cups plain/all-purpose flour
  • 5 ml/1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 ml/¼ tsp salt

For the Sweetmeat

  • 450 g/1 lb/2⅔ cups hard dried figs
  • 450 g/1 lb/2⅔ cups sultanas/golden raisins or raisins
  • 115 g/4 oz/1 cup shelled walnuts
  • 115 g/4 oz/1 cup blanched almonds
  • finely grated rind of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • finely grated rind of 1 unwaxed orange
  • 300 ml/½ pint/1 ¼ cups sweet dessert wine or sherry


  1. First make the sweetmeat. Put the figs and sultanas or raisins in a bowl with water to cover. Soak for 30 minutes. Drain and transfer to a pan. Pour over fresh water to cover. Bring to simmering point and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften. Allow to cool.
  2. Chop the nuts finely in a food processor or with a knife, transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Drain the softened dried fruit and place in a food processor with the lemon and orange zest. With the motor running, add half the wine or sherry through the feeder tube and process in bursts until reasonably smooth.
  3. Scrape the mixture into the large bowl containing the nuts, stir to combine, then add more wine or sherry as needed to create a medium to dry consistency.
  4. Set aside 45ml/3 tbsp of the mixture and spoon the rest into a plastic container, close the lid securely and store in the refrigerator (see Cook’s Tips). Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Grease 2 baking sheets.
  5. Put the butter in a bowl and beat it with a spoon or whisk until creamed. Beat in the sugar, egg or egg yolks, milk and vanilla extract, adding a little flour if the mixture shows signs of curdling. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix to a soft dough. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

  6. Scoop up a teaspoon of the mixture. Roll it into a ball and place it on a baking sheet, then flatten it to a round. Repeat with the remaining mixture, leaving room for spreading. Spoon a little of the sweetmeat on to each round and pull up the edges to partially cover the filling.

  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Leave on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and sprinkle with sugar. Leave to cool.