Italian Fig Cookies, Cucidati, Sicilian Fig Cookies, or Christmas Fig Cookies are a few of the names you might find for this deliciously moist, tender and sweet, fruit filled cookie.
With notes of citrus from fresh orange juice and lemon zest, the unique and richly spiced filling is wrapped inside a buttery sugar cookie dough that’s a dream to work with. Baked in strips then sliced into individual cookies when warm from the oven, this method couldn’t be easier. Once cooled the cookies are drizzled with a lemon glaze and traditional holiday nonpareils (sprinkles.)
First of all, figs are one of my favorite treats, dried or fresh, their natural sweet flavor satisfies even the biggest craving for dessert. The moist and lightly sweet filling is made by gently cooking the figs with chopped dates, or raisins, a touch of rum, orange juice, cinnamon and lemon zest. Chopped almonds are added at the end, then the thick mixture is cooled before spreading on strips of tender vanilla cookie dough.
Once each of the components are prepared, the cookies bake up quickly. I love a multi-step baking processes that looks like you worked hard all day, but is super easy.
In addition to having a wonderful flavor, these cookies freeze well and travel wonderfully when properly packed. The unique flavor is like no other with the spicy, aromatic, fruity filling and simple sugar cookie dough. A must try for your holiday table!
Finally, we’re almost done with our holiday cookie tour with the last recipe posting on Friday. Pictured above are the Vanilla Pretzel Cookies, Roczki Cookies (Kolacky), chocolate dipped Tuile Cigar Cookies (Pirouettes), and this Italian Fig Cookie.
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- For the dough:
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup packed, light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
For the fig filling:
- 1 cup dried diced Calimyrna or Mission figs (stems removed) (6 or 7 ounce package)
- ½ cup chopped pitted dates, finely chopped (or substitute raisins if preferred)
- ½ cup orange juice, fresh squeezed (about 1 orange)
- ⅓ cup diced candied orange peel
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅓ cup blanched almonds, chopped fine
- 2 tablespoons dark spiced rum or Grand Marnier (orange liqueur)
For the lemon glaze:
- 1 cup of powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice (just enough to make a glaze you can slowly drizzle)
- Sprinkles for decoration if desired
- To prepare the dough, place the butter to a mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar and baking soda. Beat until combined. Add the egg, vanilla and salt and mix until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat again for a few seconds. Add the flour in three additions, mixing on low to incorporate.
- Divide the dough in half and form each into a small rectangle. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling. In a small saucepan, combine the figs, dates, orange juice, candied orange peel, sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes or until fruit is soft and the mixture is thick. Remove from the heat and add the chopped blanched almonds and 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, if using. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap once cooled until needed.
- To assemble and bake the cookies, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes before rolling out.
- Place a piece of wax or parchment paper (at least 14x10 inches) on a clean work surface. Lightly dust with flour. Roll one portion of the dough into a 10x8-inch rectangle. Cut each rectangle into two 10x4-inch strips. Portion ¼ of the filling down the center of each strip (in a rounded mound). Use the parchment paper as a guide and bring one long side of the dough up and over the filling. Repeat with the opposite side forming a tube and enclosing the filling. The dough should overlap slightly on top of the filling. Gently seal the edges.
- Carefully transfer the filled strips to the prepared baking sheet placing them seem side down on the pan. Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Remove from the oven and immediately slice each strip (using a large thin knife) diagonally into 1-inch pieces. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.
- To prepare the lemon glaze, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle on each cookie then top with colored sprinkles if desired.
Prep time does not include the 3 hours to chill the dough.
We used Grand Marnier in this recipe.
Adapted from a Better Homes and Gardens recipe published in Christmas Cookies, 2003
Here are a few more holiday cookies you might enjoy – from around the world:
- Lebkuchen – German Gingerbread Cookies
- Old World Linzer Cookies
- Vanilla Pretzel Cookies
- Tuile Cigar Cookies (Pirouettes)
- Swedish Sugar Cookies ~ from The View from Great Island
- Italian Cookies ~ from The View from Great Island
- Chocolate Pizzelles
- Zimtsterne ~ Cinnamon Stars
- Speculaas (Molded Ginger Cookies) ~ from Saveur
Thanks so much for stopping by … and for following along as we bake our way through the holidays!