Hi everybody. It’s me Andrew, Kelly’s husband. I made a recipe for the blog. With holidays coming up I’ve been thinking about Christmases past. My family moved to Pennsylvania when I was a little kid, but we drove back to Schenectady, NY for a week every Christmas. My Grandpa Corty and Grandma Margo’s house was always a charming place to be. Neither of them were much for cooking, but there was usually something very good to eat.
My grandparents’ house backed-up against Canalis, an Italian restaurant*. Marge and Corty were good friends with the owners, so you could be sure there would be plenty of pasta, meatballs, sausage, and for all of us to eat. My Uncle Joe is Italian-American, so he might bring dishes that he, his mom, or his sister had made. I don’t know where they came from, but I remember there was sometimes a big plate of Italian cookies. The cookie shapes and flavors were so fascinating and unusual. I wasn’t used to anise, figs, dates, custard, or citrus. The only cookies I knew were sugar and chocolate chip.
This year I wanted to try and add one of these traditional Italian cookies to our list of gluten free Christmas cookies (Kelly already created a gluten-free biscotti recipe last year). After a little Italian cookie research I decided to attempt cucidati, Sicilian fig cookies. The dried fruit filling is traditionally gluten-free, and Kelly had a dough recipe that needed only a little adjusting.
1/2 cup dried figs
1/2 cup dates
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup orange marmalade
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbsp rum (optional)
First off, you’ll want to remove the little stems from the figs. The figs and dates should be soaked in hot water until soft. Once the figs and dates are soft add them to a food processor with the raisins, marmalade, cinnamon, and salt. Blend until it becomes a coarse goo. Move the contents into a bowl. Hand chop the walnuts. Using a spoon, hand-mix them into the filling.
Add all the dough ingredients to a bowl. I started with the dry and added the honey, egg, and coconut oil last. Since it’s winter our jar of coconut oil was solid. I warmed the 1/4 cup on the stove to liquify. Make sure it doesn’t over-heat because hot oil could cook the egg in the bowl.
I simply hand-mixed the dough ingredients with a spoon. Once it’s mixed to a sticky dough consistency give it a little time to rest. Maybe 5 minutes. This allows the liquids to be further absorbed into the dry ingredients. After sitting the dough will be less sticky, and you can shape it into a log.
|Step 1: roll the dough and add the filling.|
Step 1: Dust a sheet of parchment paper with coconut flour. Flatten the dough log into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. I should have measured the flattened dough’s dimensions (I just eyeballed it). Grab some of that filling and form a foot-long hot dog.
|Step 2: fold over the dough. It looks like a calzone!|
Step 2: Lift up the closest edge of the parchment paper to help you fold the dough over the filling. Press the dough edges together. You can also gently pinch together any areas where the dough cracked.
|Step 3: Cut off the excess dough and cut into pieces.|
Step 3: Trim off the excess dough where the ends met. This can be flattened out again to make a few more cookies. Cut the log into pieces (1.5 to 2 inches wide).
Step 4: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange on a cookie sheet. For more photogenic cookies I moistened the cookie tops with a tiny bit of water and pressed on some sprinkles. Bake for about 12 minutes, and let those cookies cool.
You will have enough filling to make more. I just refrigerated the filling and made another batch of dough the next day. Or you could double the dough ingredients if you want to make them all at once.
That’s it! Buon Appetito! Buon Natale! —Andrew
Traditional recipe directions for this cookie have you cut the dough into strips, before adding the filling. I couldn’t do this because the almond-coconut dough would fall apart in such small pieces. So, our solution was to roll it into a log and cut later. I think this was easier anyway.
Traditional wheat recipes call for a white confectioner sugar frosting. I tried mixing powdered coconut sugar with a little almond milk. The consistency was right, but the color was a caramel brown. So, I skipped the frosting and went for the sprinkles (Let’s Do Organic brand) by themselves.
*I haven’t been there in years, but my mom tells me that Canalis has a gluten-free pasta menu!
P.S. There is a version of these cookies with a chocolate fig filling in Kelly’s Paleo Chocolate Lovers’ Cookbook.