Italian Fig Cookies (Cucidati)
Flavorful, moist, tender Italian Fig Cookies (cucidati) filled with dried fruit and hints of citrus. A Christmas cookie must every year!
Cucidati or Italian Fig Cookies is the one standing tradition remaining in our family.
My aunt makes up a large batch of dough and fig filling every year. We all come together to help her bake the hundreds and hundreds of cookies. It’s usually a fun adventure!
I have consulted with her for years about how to cut down the recipe so most home bakers wouldn’t run to the hills in fear of the sheer size of her recipe. This year I just kept hounding and consulting with her until we finally came up with great results.
Try our bread pudding recipe with bourbon sauce!
See the above photo for what I was dealing with…numerous recipes from years past! So many different ones!
Every Sicilian family has its own recipe and this is ours, sort of. I tested her dough recipe over and over until I almost lost track.
Her recipes use shortening and butter but the first one I was working from stated either / or. Ughhhh. The first batch came out hard as rocks!
So, back to her house to pull out the recipes and ask questions.
Come to find out she uses MARGARINE and shortening. Well, when it comes to cookies I’m a pure butter kind of baker. So the dough recipe I’m sharing is from loads of research and testing. But the fig filling is all my aunt’s.
Italian Fig Cookies (Cucidati)
First, place the coarsely chopped pecans, orange zest, dried figs, dates, and raisins into the food processor. Give it a couple of pulses to start grinding the fruit.
In a separate bowl whisk together the granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
Add the water and sugar mixture to the food processor and pulse until it grinds everything and comes together. You could also use fresh orange juice in place of the water for a stronger citrus flavor.
Most recipes use rum instead of water but I guess in our family that was not acceptable.
Place in an air-tight container and refrigerate for at least overnight or longer.
My aunt uses a meat grinder to finely mince the fruit and seasonings together. She also uses a bread machine to mix the dough. I found that my food processor does the work much easier.
Next to make the dough: Clean and dry the food processor. Pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Add the cold butter and pulse a few more times again.
Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and milk. Process until the dough just starts to combine (like pie dough). Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until it comes together completely and looks smooth.
Divide the dough into four equal pieces and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
The dough and the fig filling can be refrigerated for long periods of time. Days and days, which makes this Cucidati recipe a little easier on the baker. It can be time-consuming so break it up over a period of days.
When you are ready to bake the cookies preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Form the fig filling into ropes about the size of your little finger. To make it easier form all the filling and place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Using only one dough round at a time (leave the remaining dough refrigerated) on a well-floured work surface, knead the dough a few times until it becomes smooth, roll the dough out fairly thin, about 1/8 inch thick. This dough rises some and you want to taste that amazing filling, not just cookie.
Trim the rough edges from the dough, place a rope on the dough edge.
Lift the outer edge and start rolling it over the filling.
Roll it completely over and trim it off, as shown above. Place the seam side down.
Slice each strip on the diagonal into about 1-inch pieces and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the tops a light golden and bottoms are browned. Watch them closely, all ovens are different. You may need to rotate the baking sheets for even browning.
Allow them to cool on the pan for about 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
These are not your average store-bought fig newtons. They are perfectly spicy, aromatic, moist little morsels of pure heavenly flavor. The longer these cookies sit the better they taste!!!
Try our Almond Biscotti recipe!
Traditionally these cookies are iced and topped with colored sprinkles. We have never used sprinkles but we have used icing in the past. Over the years it was decided the icing wasn’t necessary, so we typically don’t do it anymore.
Check out our popular Italian Butterball Cookie recipe or our super yummy Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookie.
If you’re wanting to keep it within the season, our eggnog cookies are amazing and so easy to make! Check them out as well.
Italian (Sicilian) Fig Cookie Recipe
Italian Fig Cookies (Cucidati) Recipe
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter cold and cut into small pieces
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 cup pecans rough chopped
- 8 oz dried figs stemmed and roughly chopped
- 5 oz dates pitted and roughly chopped
- 4 oz dark raisins
- 1 small orange zest
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup warm water Up to 1/3 cup
- Pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Add the cold butter pieces and pulse again.
- Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and milk. Process until the dough just starts to combine (like pie dough). Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until it comes together completely and looks smooth.
- Divide the dough into four equal pieces and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
- Place the dried figs, dates, pecans, raisins, and orange zest in the food processor. Give it a couple of pulses to start grinding the fruit.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
- Add the water and sugar mixture to the food processor and pulse until it grinds everything and comes together.
- Place in an air-tight container and refrigerate for at least overnight or longer.
Forming and Baking
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Form the fig filling into ropes about the size of your little finger. To make it easier form all the filling and place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Using only one dough round at a time (leave the remaining dough refrigerated) on a well-floured surface, knead the dough a few times until it becomes smooth, roll the dough out fairly thin, about 1/8 inch thick.
- Trim the rough edges from the dough, place a rope on the dough edge. Lift the outer edge and start rolling it over the filling. Roll it completely over and trim it off. Place the seam side down.
- Slice each strip on the diagonal into about 1-inch pieces and place them on the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
- Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the tops a light golden and bottoms are browned. Watch them closely, all ovens are different. You may need to rotate the baking sheets for even browning.
- Allow them to cool on the pan for about 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
If you would like to double this recipe we have found you will need to double the filling and triple the dough.
Both the dough and filling can be refrigerated for days! I have made them as much as a week before baking.
Storage – Store completely cooled cookies in an airtight container or bag at room temperature for up to 3 weeks. (These keep a really long time I’m almost embarrassed to tell you how long we have had them stay fresh) Freezing – Freeze completely cooled cookies (unfrosted) in a freezer-safe container or bag for up to 3 months.
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I am familiar with making fig cookies. This recipe is a great improvement over the way we used to make them. Using the food processor made it easy and FUN and took a faction of the time to make them. Thank you Leigh. MB
There better be some when I get there Leigh. Thanks for simplifying Mom’s recipe! I feel your pain, but now I know where I get my recipe sharing skills from. 😉
What temperature do you bake these at? I did not see it in the recipe. Thanks
Thank you for the heads up! I have corrected the recipe to bake at 325 degrees.
These little gems popped up in a search for fig newtons. Since everyone knows everything is better with a bit of Amore, these got made instead. Being notorious for not following a recipe, the only substitutions were lime zest, didn’t have an orange, and muscovado sugar, didn’t have granulated. Maybe it was the sugar, or the fat content on the butter was low but the dough was wet after being in the fridge over night resulting in the addition of another 1/2 cup-ish of flour kneaded in. It takes a minute to get the hang of rolling the logs.
All that aside, the final product is delicious. 2 cups of sugar in the filling scared me, but the filling is just right. The flavors of all the fruits come through beautifully. Sit down with one or two (or seven) cucidati and an espresso – heaven.
Thank you so much, Sarah! Your comment brought a huge smile to my face! The amount of sugar scared me too because my aunt loves to add extra sugar to EVERY recipe. LOL
I’d love to try these but a family member is allergic to nuts. I understand omitting them will change the flavor some but my question is whether I should be replacing the nuts with something else or change the quantities of other filling ingredients. Thanks so much.
We have never made these without the nuts, so I can’t really answer your question. I really don’t think they would be the same at all.
I haven’t tried this, but I might recommend using 3/4-1 cup of unsalted sunflower seeds. they’re fairly neutral tasting seeds that may provide a similar texture to the filling. (Added bonus: much cheaper!!!) Hope this helps!
We don’t add nuts to our family recipe due to my nana hated nuts. We do add chocolate and some anise. You can pretty much add whatever you want as long as the filling is soft. We also add honey. In my family they are called cucidatta. Every Sicilian family has a diff name.
How long can the fig mixture be kept in the fridge for? I have just made this and wondered how long I can leave it before making these for Christmas, Also how long can the biscotti stay after being cooked? Thank you
Hi, Alison. The funny thing is this fig mixture will last a good long while in the fridge. My aunt has made it way in advance with no problem. The baked cookies will last months! We store them in a tin, they have become softer after a month or so. My aunt also just pulled the fig filling from the freezer (made last Christmas) and tested it for freezer burn. NO freezer burn! I know this is not really recommended but just giving you our experience. ENJOY!
@DSTR Thank you for your reply that’s great makes it much easier to plan and prepare beforehand. Much appreciated
With regards to how long the fig filling can be kept in the refrigerator, are you talking about 2 or 3 days or 2 or 3 weeks or longer. I have made the filling about a week ago and am wondering if it is still ok to use.
Thank you so very much for your research. You have made life easier for many of us.
Hi, Josette. It should be just fine! My aunt will make the filling and let it sit for weeks!
Since my grandmother passed away 27 years ago, I searched and searched for one that came close to hers. I gave up actually for years until now. I found your recipe and it was very close. I did frost as we had with my grandma’s as well as adding the orange juice in place of some of the water. Thank you for bringing back a very fond memory of Christmas
Hi, Gina! This makes us so happy! Merry Christmas!
I don’t have any dried figs, but I have plenty of fresh figs in the freezer from this year’s harvest of our backyard trees. Do I have to dry some? Or can I use a specific amount of fresh?
This recipe requires dried figs. We have never used fresh.
I have been looking for a truly wonderful fig cookie recipe since I was 10 years old and they became my favorite. Now, how do I get out of work early so I make these right now!!
You fake an illness! 🙂
I can not thank you enough for posting this recipe. Cucidati have been a staple Christmas cookie in my family for generations. I make them every year, and the recipe I have can feed an army (I’m betting it is a similar size as your aunt’s original recipe!). I have been wanting to reduce the size (it is a daunting task to make a full batch) but was never sure exactly how to do so for the dough. A cousin recently made a special request for these cookies (he is dying and asked me to make his Aunt Marie’s cucidati), and I am so thankful to have found your recipe, as I am not wanting or needing to make a huge batch. (Our recipes are very similar — one difference in the filling is that my grandma’s recipe, instead of sugar, used 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 pound sweet chocolate, and instead of water, she used rum). All the best and thank you again!
Pilar, you’re so welcome! This makes us so happy!!!:))))
Have you heard of a similar cookie with chestnuts in the filling
Hi Diane. Maybe this is what you are looking for Calzoni Di Castagne
You say divide into 4
How many logs do I get out of each and how long ?
You only divide the dough to keep the pieces you aren’t working with chilled in the fridge. Just roll the dough to 1/8 inch thick. You want to roll the filling log into about the size of your pinkie finger. This recipe makes about 80 cookies.
Made a half batch of this recipe and turned out amazing, used a touch of dried apricots instead of dates. Seriously so much better than store bought I’m not sure I’ll buy them again, wow
Thanks so much, John. Yep, we’re in the same boat. Why buy that stuff from the store when you can just do it yourself. So much better! 🙂
Hi. I have been making these for years using my husband’s grandmothers recipe. It is a Christmas tradition at our house. Over the years I’ve found that putting the filling in a large ziplock bag and cutting a corner and squeezing the filling into logs makes forming the cookies so much easier. Thought I would share. I also use a combination of fresh and dried figs.
Thanks for the tip, Debbie!
I made these without the nuts as I too have family members allergic! I don’t know if they taste different, but they are delicious! I will be making these often. Also, I did freeze them as suggested and it worked pretty good.
Thanks, Joanne! I’m sure they taste just as amazing without the nuts.
My mother use to make these cookies but with prunes instead of figs. I have no idea where her recipe originated. I wonder if it was a money thing and prunes were cheaper or more available than figs. My grandparents were from Palermo. No living relative’s around to ask
Looking forward to making these. A neighbor, Mrs. Scurto, would gift them every year (in the 1950s,). I look forward to sharing with my fellow volunteers. Thank you!
Do you use the whole dough for one fig roll and keep rolling or just until the dough covers once. I’m a little confused about that part of the instructions. Does one dough make one strip. Thx
Hi, Mary Lou. See the photos for help. One section of dough rolled out 1/8″ thick and then rim the rough edges from the dough, place a rope on the dough edge. Lift the outer edge and start rolling it over the filling. Roll it completely over and trim it off, as shown above. Place the seam side down. Slice each strip on the diagonal into about 1-inch pieces and place them on the prepared baking sheet. And repeat until that “one piece” of dough is used. Repeat with the remaining 3 refrigerated pieces until done.
I hope this helps. Merry Christmas!
Thanks! That’s what I did. My dough was sticky – added more flour when rolling and it helped. I had to make more dough – had left over filling. They’re delicious! I think when my Sicilian grandma made these – she put wine in them. Couldn’t find her recipe – but these are close.
This it the first time we’re mKing these cookies. The filling has an amazing taste of the orange essence and the various spices . Instead of water I used brandy, and wow what a taste. Very reminiscent of the fig cookies my grandmother on my father’s side made for my family every Christmas many years ago. Should we refrigerate the cookies after they are made?
Hi, Peter. I’m so trying brandy in my next batch!!! There is no need to refrigerate the cookies, and they last FOREVER in a tin. Merry Christmas.
Just want you to know I made these gluten free. I used 1:1 gf flour and added an extra egg for binding. They were a little sticky rolling out but they really need that egg. They are delicious! My picky 4 year old wants to eat them all.
Thank you for coming by to let us know how they came out! Merry Christmas!
What is the best way to store these after finishes? Refrigerated or covered room temp?
In an air-tight container at room temperature. My aunt swears by tins. 😉 They just get better as they sit.
Hello. Is it possible to omit the dates and either add more figs or raisins? Thank you.
Sure, it will change the taste a little. Enjoy!
I am making these for the first time and I have a question:
We divide the dough into four equal parts, but what about the filling? Do we divide that into four parts? What is the ratio of dough to filling I guess is what I am asking.
Is it one-quarter of dough to one-quarter of filling? It seems like I have a ton of filling.
We don’t bother dividing the filling. You only divide the dough to keep the pieces you aren’t working with chilled in the fridge. I just made a batch this week and did have some filling left over. But we never worry about that and just make 1/2 a recipe of more dough. This is my aunt’s recipe and as most Italians, there is never a “recipe” they go my feel. 😉 You want to roll the filling log into about the size of your pinkie finger. I hope this helps!
Yes, your reply helps. Thank you. I made another batch of cookie dough to use up the filling.
These cookies were a huge hit which surprised me because I thought I’d be the only one who liked them since they have “weird” fruit and nuts in them. But no, they were gobbled up rather quickly.
I’ve already been asked for the recipe. Sent a link to here. Thanks again.
So happy everyone enjoyed the cookies! Merry Christmas, Elle!
Holy shit you filling is good, way better than my grandmother’s! We used much less sugar but your recipe is fantastic. Thank you!!
😉 Thanks, Rick! I giggled reading your comment. My aunt will add so much sugar to everything! I tease her about it all the time. Your comment will make her day! Thank you so much!
Absolutely amazing!!! We always have so many figs that come in at one time that I freeze gallons of them…. well… I used a gallon freezer bag full of figs (thawed & drained), raisins, & dates, zero fluid since the figs were juicy, and only 1/2 cup of sugar. Couldn’t do the roll of filling but these are SO delicious, perfectly moist, and SOFT!!! I will be making these again & again!