BEST Italian Fig Cookie Recipe (Cuccidati) (2024)

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Cuccidati- Italian Fig Cookies are traditionally served during the holidays, especially Christmas.The sweet dough is similar to that of a butter cookie and the filling is a mixture of dried figs, raisins, almonds, chocolate, jam, honey, and spices. The perfect Italian Christmas cookie to give as a gift!

There are many cookies we like to bake here at Christmas time. There is one that is my most favorite: i cuccidati! They are Italian Christmas cookies also known as ‘buccellati.

Jump To
  • what are cuccidati- sicilian fig cookies
  • Why You Will Love These Fig Cookies
  • Other names for Sicilian fig Cookies
  • Italian fig cookie shapes
  • Ingredients for Cuccidati
  • How to make these Italian fig cookies
  • Family background behind these fig cookies
  • Sicilian memories
  • Cuccidati Variations
  • Expert Tips to make these cookies with figs
  • FAQ'S
  • Authentic Italian Fig Cookies (Cuccidati)

what are cuccidati- sicilian fig cookies

Cuccidati are a traditional Italian cookie made with sweet dough filled with a mixture of dried figs, raisins, almonds, chocolate, jam, honey and other spices. The flavorful filling is rolled into the dough creating an oval shape cookie that is then baked until golden brown. It’s one of the most popular Christmas cookies in Italy.

Why You Will Love These Fig Cookies

  1. Flavorful Filling: These Italian date cookies are filled with a delightful mix of dried figs, raisins, almonds, chocolate, jam, and honey. The blend of these ingredients creates a rich, sweet, and slightly nutty flavor that's truly unique.
  2. Sweet Dough: The dough used in the cookies is similar to a butter cookie dough, which is known for its tender and melt-in-your-mouth texture.
  3. Tradition: These cookies with figs are a staple during the Christmas holidays in Italy. Baking and eating these cookies can become a delightful new family tradition.
  4. Gift-Worthy: Their beautiful oval shape and delectable taste make these cookies a perfect gift during the holiday season.
  5. Popular in Italy: Cuccidatis are one of the most popular Christmas cookies in Italy. Enjoying these cookies is like taking a culinary trip to Italy from the comfort of your kitchen.

Other names for Sicilian fig Cookies

The cuccidati have a long history and the filling ingredients are for me, very representative of Sicily and of my dad. Some variations of the name in dialect: cucciddatu, vurciddatu, purciddatu or‘ucciddatu. The name buccellati derives from the medieval Latin “bucellatum”.

These cookies are said to have antique origins of the Roman “panificatus” . We also enjoy Italian Lemon Knot Cookies-Taralli al Limone during the holidays!

The filling shows the Arab influences of Sicily and consists of sweet dried figs, raisins, candied citron, almonds, chopped hazelnuts, fresh lemon and orange zest, and a touch of spice. I’ve seen recipes that include clove and cinnamon. I like to sometimes add a dash of cinnamon. You can decide if you want to add a dash of cloves.

Italian fig cookie shapes

The cuccidati take on many different shapes: wreaths and sometimes the “X” form. They are sometimes even shaped as animals. I don’t think I’ll be attempting any time soon the animal shaped version. As in the way the dialects change as you travel from town to town in Sicily, so do these cookies.

There are the different dialect names for the cookies, different shapes they can be formed in, and the slight differences in the fillings.

Ingredients for Cuccidati

DOUGH

  • ½ cup butter softened: Gives the cookies a rich, buttery flavor and tender texture.
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar: Adds sweetness to the dough.
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda: Helps the cookies rise and spread, giving them their characteristic shape.
  • 1 egg: Acts as a binder, holding all the ingredients together.
  • 1 tsp. vanilla: Adds a subtle hint of vanilla flavor to the cookies.
  • 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour: Forms the base of the dough and provides structure to the cookies.

FIG FILLING

  • 1 cup dried and chopped figs, stems removed: The main ingredient of the filling, lending the cookies their distinctive figgy flavor.
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds: Adds a bit of crunch and nutty flavor to the filling.
  • 2/3 cup raisins: Contribute to the overall sweetness and texture of the filling.
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips: Adds a depth of chocolate flavor to the filling.
  • 1/2 cup orange juice: Provides moisture and a hint of tanginess to balance out the sweetness of the filling.
  • 1/2 cup Moscato, Marsala, or white wine: Adds a unique flavor and moistens the dried fruits.
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon: Adds a touch of freshness and acidity to the filling.
  • 1/4 cup honey: Acts as a natural sweetener and binder for the filling.
  • 2 Tablespoons orange marmalade: Adds sweetness and a citrusy note.
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon: Infuses the filling with a warm, spicy note.

LEMON GLAZE

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar: Forms the base of the glaze and adds sweetness.
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice: Adds a tangy flavor to balance the sweet glaze.
  • Rainbow nonpareils: Adds a colorful and fun touch to the finished cookies.

How to make these Italian fig cookies

  • In a stand mixer, beat butter until smooth (1 minute). Beat in the sugars and soda until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla. Lower speed of mixer and beat in the flour. Divide dough in half in plastic wrap. Chill until firm. While dough chills, prepare the fig filling (see directions below).

Filling:

  • Remove stems from the figs and cut into small pieces. Place the figs and
  • the rest of filling ingredients in food processor with the metal blade.
  • Pulse until finely chopped. You could use the filling like this or you
  • could cook in a medium size skillet for about 5-7 minutes on medium-low heat In a medium saucepan combine filling ingredients. If it doesn't seem moist enough,
  • add orange juice a Tablespoon at a time until the mixture soft and
  • thick. Adjust the flavor of filling to your liking. If you like more of a spice flavor, add a bit more cinnamon. Add more honey if you'd like sweeter. If you like more chocolate, add some more chips to your liking. Cool to room temperature.

When dough is firm:

  • Sprinkle a little flour on the bottom and top of a portion of dough and place it in between two sheets of plastic wrap (or parchment paper). Roll into a 10x8 inch rectangle. Cut each rectangle lengthwise in half.
  • Spread fig filling lengthwise down the middle of each strip.
  • Gently lift up one long side of dough and fold it over the filling.
  • Lift the other side over the filling. Pinch together the seam.
  • Flip over the log seam side down.
  • Carefully slice into the pieces.
  • Place them seam side down on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Finish filling and slicing the rest of the dough.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer pieces to a wire rack to cool. Drizzle with lemon glaze (see directions below) and sprinkles.

Lemon Glaze:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until it forms a thick but pourable glaze (add more lemon juice if necessary). If it gets too thin, add a little more confectioners' sugar.
  • Drizzle on each cookie, add the sprinkles and let set, about 15 minutes.
BEST Italian Fig Cookie Recipe (Cuccidati) (6)

Family background behind these fig cookies

There is the Sicilian background of these cookies and my family and then there is the Calabrian version and my mother-in-law. The other day my husband made a Skype call to his parents. It was almost Christmas Eve and Teresa was busy baking and it was already 10:30 at night.

She finally came to the computer to say “ciao” and she had on her cute apron and was carrying a huge basket of “i sammartini”. That’s Calabrese for her biscotti di San Martine, which are almost the same as these cuccidati.

They are also made at Christmas time in Calabria as they are in Sicily. Except Teresa doesn’t reserve them just for the holidays. She makes them whenever she visits us and whenever we are there in Italy with her. Any time is a special occasion. Their recipe is almost the same as the Sicilian version.

I called her the next day to have her run by the filling for me again. She told me it’s simply figs, raisins, almonds, some Moscato or Vin Santo, a little bit of chocolate chips and a dash of cinnamon. I have seen recipes with dates and honey.

Teresa reminded me her recipe is made without dates and no need for any honey. She told me to add orange marmalade since I can’t find orange peels from wonderful oranges like she gets from Calabria.

BEST Italian Fig Cookie Recipe (Cuccidati) (7)

Since we were thousands of miles away from Teresa and couldn’t be with them for Christmas, I had to bake i cuccidati (or as she calls them, i sammartini). Normally we make cuccidati with our neighbor’s Sicilian parents or with my mom.

Nonno Sal and Nonna Maria (my neighbor’s parents)were out of town this Christmas and it was up to me to bring a little bit of Sicily (and Calabria!) to my kitchen and for our holiday table.

My mother used to make them every Christmas for us when we were growing up. She came by on Christmas Eve to bake with my kids and my nieces. She gave me a hand with the cuccidati. The kids were awaiting their turn to get baking the sugar cookies. The cookies are not that hard to make.

If you can have someone around to give you a hand, it will make the process go a little quicker. While the dough rests in the fridge, you can make the fig filling. Then when the cookies are filled and baked, it’s time to ice them. When you ice them, it’s better to have someone with you to help you with the sprinkles. The kids are always ready to sprinkle!

BEST Italian Fig Cookie Recipe (Cuccidati) (8)

Sicilian memories

It’s been almost a year since my dad passed and this is the first Christmas without him. Daddy was from Sicily so I think of him when I bake these cookies. He was greatly missed this holiday.

I told the kids when we were picking up some last minute things on Christmas Eve that I can’t believe my dad won’t be coming by with his famous ham platter. I told them I will miss his ham so much this year and that the dinner won’t seem the same without it.

My mom asked if we would bake a ham this year and I couldn’t do it without my dad. My daughter told me even though his ham was her favorite dish of the holiday, she won’t really miss the ham as much as she will miss him.

A year passed in a flash and the holiday as well. I kept myself busy and kept the spirits high because it is the kids favorite time of year. I baked these cookies thinking of him.

I baked the cuccidati thinking if he were in the kitchen with me he would be my eager assistant. I imagined that in his opinion, a little more Marsala in the filling would be better.

My dad would most likely tell me, “Don’t be shy with the raisins. Add a little more!” (he loved raisins!). I could imagine him hovering over me as I sliced the cookies making sure each piece was precisely cut.

My dad was quite the perfectionist. I could see his very happy face and eyes light up in satisfaction when they were complete.

Here’s a photo of my dad from Christmas 2011. It was too hot for him to that year to wear his favorite Christmas red, white and green sweater. His ham platter was very Sicilian with touches of rosemary and orange slices from his garden.

He added slices of star fruit and there was, of course, his huge and proud smile. Miss you, daddy. I baked these cookies remembering you and all of our Christmases together!

Cuccidati Variations

Nuts

Roast your nuts in the oven or sauté them on a hot skillet for a richer flavor. Additionally, if you need more crunch and toasted goodness, feel free to add extra nuts according to your taste!

Chocolate

Personalize your creation by using your favorite type of chocolate bar or chips; feel free to adjust the quantity according to how much you enjoy it.

Marsala Wine

You can use Moscato to bring a velvety richness and decadent sweetness. Be mindful of the quantity you use; too much can overpower and make the dessert overly sweet!

Expert Tips to make these cookies with figs

  • Chocolate is optional. My mother-in-law always adds a little bit of chopped chocolate to hers. She also adds her own orange marmalade. Sometimes I have some of hers on hand that she gifted us. Sometimes I use apricot jam. Whichever works fine.
  • Add honey for a little more sweetness. You could omit the honey and it will still be sweet.
  • Make it with or without dark chocolate chips: I made one batch of filling with dark chocolate chips and one without. I like it both ways.
  • Be precise: I tried to keep as precise as I could with measuring the size of the cookies. When my mom was around helping me with the first batch, they were very evenly sliced. When she went outside to take a phone call, I was a little more liberal with the size of the cookies. They weren’t as symmetrical as the ones she and I sliced together.

FAQ'S

Can you make the fig filling ahead of time?

Yes! The fig filling could be made a week ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

How to store Italian fig cookies?

Place in layers separated by wax paper in an airtight container. They are perfect to give as a gift.

Do you have to cook the fig filling?

I know some bakers don’t cook the filling and just bring it all together in a food processor. I like the way the fig thickens and becomes more like a thick paste from cooking it with all the other ingredients.

When I cook it a little, I do end up adding more juice and more wine to listen it a little more, as it thickens much more when it cooks. But I’ve made the cookies with the filling cooked and not cooked, and either way they are fantastic!

When I add the filling I like to make it as lined up as possible so it will be even when you flip the dough over it to cover it. It can be a bit messy, so keep a towel on hand or wash your fingers in between each strip so you don’t dirty the next portion of dough with your figgy fingers.

If you make the filling a few days or even a week before, the flavors will meld together even more. Double the recipe to make more to give as gifts.

Can you make Italian fig cookies ahead of time

To save time, you can prepare your cookie dough and fig filling on separate days and assemble the cookies later. But make sure to store both in the refrigerator; they shouldn't be left out for more than two days.

These cookies may surprise you and be a hit with your kids and trust me, they are a hit when you bring them to a party. I made the mistake of not bringing enough to a Christmas Eve party we went to this year.

What does Cuccidati mean in English?

Cuccidati, also known as Buccellati, is an Italian term translating to "little bracelets" in English. These delightful cookies are so named due to their round, bracelet-like shape.

What is Cuccidati made of?

Cuccidati cookies are composed of a sweet, delicate pastry dough that's filled with a mixture of figs, dates, raisins, and various nuts such as almonds or walnuts. This filling is sometimes complemented with the addition of honey, spices, and a splash of Marsala wine for a unique depth of flavor. Once baked, the cookies are typically adorned with a simple icing and colored sprinkles for a festive touch.

What is the most popular Italian cookie?

While there are many loved Italian cookies, one of the most popular is the Amaretti cookie. These are almond-flavored cookies that have a crisp exterior and a soft, chewy interior. However, during the holiday season, Cuccidati often takes center stage due to their festive appearance and rich, complex flavor.

How many calories in a Cuccidati cookie?

The caloric content of a Cuccidati cookie can vary depending on its size and the specific ingredients used. However, on average, a single Cuccidati cookie is estimated to contain around 150 to 200 calories. As always, it's important to enjoy these delicious treats in moderation.

I brought more American cookies and less of the fig cookies thinking not everyone would like them. Big mistake! I disappointed the host and promised to bring more this week! They are that good! Happy baking!

*Photos, text and recipe updated from 12/27/13

Buon Natale-Merry Christmas!

More recipes like this:

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  • Italian Rainbow Cookies
  • Italian Lemon Cookies

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BEST Italian Fig Cookie Recipe (Cuccidati) (11)

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Authentic Italian Fig Cookies (Cuccidati)

Cuccidati, also known as Sicilian Fig Cookies are traditionally served during the holidays, especially Christmas.The sweet dough is similar to that of a butter cookie and the filling is a mixture of dried figs, raisins, almonds, chocolate, jam, honey, and spices. The perfect cookie to give as a gift!

Prep Time1 hour hr

Cook Time12 minutes mins

Total Time1 hour hr 12 minutes mins

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: Italian

Keyword: Christmas, Cookies, Italy, Sicily

Servings: 12 cookies

Calories: 185kcal

Author: Lora

Ingredients

DOUGH

FIG FILLING

  • 1 cup dried and chopped figs stems removed
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips add more if you like more chocolate flavor
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup Moscato or Marsala or white wine
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

LEMON GLAZE

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice plus more if necessary
  • rainbow nonpareils

Instructions

  • In a stand mixer, beat butter until smooth (1 minute). Beat in the sugars and soda until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla. Lower speed of mixer and beat in the flour. Divide dough in half in plastic wrap. Chill until firm. While dough chills, prepare the fig filling (see directions below).

Filling:

  • Remove stems from the figs and cut into small pieces. Place the figs and

  • the rest of filling ingredients in food processor with the metal blade.

  • Pulse until finely chopped. You could use the filling like this or you

  • could cook in a medium size skillet for about 5-7 minutes on medium-low heat In a medium saucepan combine filling ingredients. If it doesn't seem moist enough,

  • add orange juice a Tablespoon at a time until the mixture soft and

  • thick. Adjust the flavor of filling to your liking. If you like more of a spice flavor, add a bit more cinnamon. Add more honey if you'd like sweeter. If you like more chocolate, add some more chips to your liking. Cool to room temperature.

When dough is firm:

  • Sprinkle a little flour on the bottom and top of a portion of dough and place it in between two sheets of plastic wrap (or parchment paper). Roll into a 10x8 inch rectangle. Cut each rectangle lengthwise in half.

  • Spread fig filling lengthwise down the middle of each strip.

  • Gently lift up one long side of dough and fold it over the filling.

  • Lift the other side over the filling. Pinch together the seam.

  • Flip over the log seam side down.

  • Carefully slice into the pieces.

  • Place them seam side down on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Finish filling and slicing the rest of the dough.

  • Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer pieces to a wire rack to cool. Drizzle with lemon glaze (see directions below) and sprinkles.

Lemon Glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until it forms a thick but pourable glaze (add more lemon juice if necessary). If it gets too thin, add a little more confectioners' sugar.

  • Drizzle on each cookie, add the sprinkles and let set, about 15 minutes.

  • To Store: Place in layers separated by wax paper in an airtight container. They are perfect to give as a gift.

Nutrition Disclaimer

Please keep in mind that the nutritional information presented below is an approximation and may vary depending on the exact ingredients used.

Nutrition

Calories: 185kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 99mg | Potassium: 114mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 279IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 0.5mg

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BEST Italian Fig Cookie Recipe (Cuccidati) (2024)

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