Cuccidati Siciliani, also spelled as “cucciddati” are typical Italian Fig Cookies from Sicily that are made during Christmas time and big holidays.
Shortbread pastry dough stuffed with soft, fragrant mix of dried figs, nuts, chocolate, candied fruit and a hint of cinnamon is what makes cuccidati cookies unforgettable from the first bite.
Speaking of bites, in Italy cuccidati cookies are often called buccellati, pronounced as Boo-chell-AHT-tee. This name dates back to Medieval times and comes from Latin word “buccellatum” which means “bites” and perfectly describes these delicious cookie bites.
Some also say that these cookies might be already known even in Roman times.
Coming from island of Sicily, which had a lot of Arab influence in the past, cuccidati got a touch of oriental flavors and spices like cinnamon.
They also remain fresh for a long time.
Of course, the main ingredients for these original cookies remain as states in the recipe below.
But there are some adjustments you can make according to your taste.
Toast nuts in the oven or quickly toss in a hot pan, they’ll have richier taste. Also you can add extra nuts if you like.
Use your favorite chocolate bar or quality chocolate chips. Also adjust amount to your taste.
Candied orange and lemon peel
Substitute candied fruit with orange jam or marmalade.
Not recommended for substitution but if you absolutely can’t find Marsala use quality brandy, limoncello or other liqueur.
Cuccidati Tips & Tricks
You can prepare cookie dough and fig filling on different days and essemble cookies later. Make sure to keep dough and filling in the fridge. Don’t let both stay more than 2 days.
Once cookies are ready for the oven, you can freeze them on a tray, then transfer in a plastic bag and bake in preheated oven straight from the freezer. You might need to increase baking time.
If you prepared the dough in advance, take it out from the fridge at least an hour before making cookies. Otherwise the dough will be too hard to work with.
As an alternative to egg white based icing you can you simple powdered sugar icing.
In the following proportion mix 1 cup confectioners sugar and 1 to 1 ½ tbsp lemon or orange juice.
If it’s too cold or humid inside you can turn on the oven and heat to 85F (30C) and let your cookies dry in the oven for 20-60 minutes, checking on them occasionally.
Cuccidati cookies can be also baked well in advance and kept in a closed container. They preserve really well.
Cuccidati – Italian Fig Cookies
- 1 egg white
- ½ cup confectioners sugar , approx 110 g
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- In a large bowl of food processor add all dry ingredients: sifted flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cold butter cut in cubes. Process until you get a crumbly dough without big lumps.
- Add eggs and vanilla extract. Process again until dough starts to come together.
- The whole process can be done with dough blender which is really handy.
- Transfer the dough onto a work surface and shape it quickly with your hands forming a smooth ball. Add some milk if the dough doesn’t come together.
- Cover with a plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
- You can also make the dough the night before and keep it in the fridge. Make sure to take it out at least 1 hour before making cooking, otherwise it’ll be too hard to roll.
- Steep dried figs in hot water for about 30 minutes. Take them out on a paper towel or linen towel and pat-dry to remove excess liquid.
- In a food processor pulse nuts and dark chocolate. Or you can roughly chop them with a sharp knife. Set aside.
- In a food processor add figs, candied fruit and Marsala wine. Process until you get a nice paste.
- In a big bowl mix together fig paste, chopped nuts with chocolate, raisins and cinnamon.
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C).
- Cut off a piece of the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to approx. ⅛ inch (3 mm) thick. Cut out a rectangular shape and save trimmed edges.
- Place fig filling lengthwise closer to one edge of the rectangle and fold the dough over to the other side brushing with some water the very end of the dough before closing it. This helps to seal the seam.
- Place formed log seam side down and using a pastry cutter or a sharp floured knife cut it into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cookies.
- Arrange the cookies on a baking sheet line with parchment paper or a silicone mat about ½ inch apart from each other.
- Bake in preheated to 350F (175C) oven for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown around the edges.
- Let cool.
- Repeat with the remaining dough (including trimmed dough leftovers) and fig filling.
- Beat egg white until foamy, add a pinch of salt and lemon juice.
- Continue to beat, slowly adding confectioners sugar. Increase speed to high and beat for another few minutes until soft peaks form.
- Once cookies are chilled to room temperature, dip them in the icing and top with color sprinkles.
- Let dry for a few hours before packing.
- If it’s too cold or humid inside you can turn on the oven and heat to 85F (30C) and let your cookies dry in the oven for 20-60 minutes, checking on them occasionally.
With all this, I’m wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Buon Natale!