Cucidate – Sicilian Christmas fig cookies

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These fig filled cookies are made especially at Christmastime throughout Sicily. Village women and their children help each other to bake a sufficient quantity to offer holiday visitors as well as to have enough on hand to last through the winter months. Although the most common shape is a horseshoe, they can also be made into ravioli shapes or more elaborate carved designs.

Ingredients for the pastry dough
  • 3 1/2 C. all purpose flour
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 12 T. butter (1 1/2 sticks), cold
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 T. milk
  • pinch salt
Ingredients for the filling
  • 1 lb (2 C.) dried figs
  • 1/4 C. golden raisins
  • 1/4 C. currants or dark raisins
  • 1/4 C. candied orange peel, rinsed and diced
  • 1/4 C. almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 1/4 C. walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1/4 C. pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 oz. (1/2 C.) semisweet chocolate, chopped or grated
  • 1/3 C. apricot preserves
  • 1/4 C. dark rum
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves


Prepare the pastry:

Combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder in a bowl and stir to mix. Rub in the butter, creating a powdery mixture. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and 2 T. of the milk and stir this into the flour mixture to form a dough. If the dough is too dry add the extra T. of milk. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly a few times. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill while preparing the filling.

Prepare the filling:

Stem the figs, place in a bowl, cover with boiling water; steep 10 min. Drain and coarsely chop in a food processor or cut into small pieces by hand before steeping in water. Combine with the remaining ingredients. To prepare in advance, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.


Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll each into a cylinder about 12 in. long. Flour the work surface and the dough lightly. With a rolling pin, roll it into a rectangle about 14 X 3 in. Place a line of filling down the center of each rectangle. 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 4 in. lengths.

Using a sharp paring knife, make a series of diagonal slashes in the top of each roll. Slightly twist and curve the roll into wide horseshoe shapes. Transfer the cucidati onto parchment lined cookie sheets.


  • 1 egg
  • pinch salt
  • optional topping: chopped pistachio nuts
  • colored sprinkles

Whisk the egg and salt together and paint the cucidate, using a soft brush.

Bake the cucidati in a preheated 350° oven for about 20 min., or until they are light golden in color. Cool on racks. Store in tins between layers of wax paper.

Adapted from GREAT ITALIAN DESSERTS by Nick Malgieri