Christmas Cucidati (Italian fig cookies)

GlutenFreeCucidati

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.

ChristmasSchenectadyNY

My grandparents’ house in Schenectady (really Rotterdam), NY. The owners of the Italian restaurant lived in that house next door. I think this shot is from the 1990s.

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.

Gluten-free Cucidati

The Filling

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.

The Dough:
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup coconut oil, liquified
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp honey
1 egg

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

Interesting notes:
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, the solution was to roll 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) by themselves.

*I haven’t been there in years, but my mom tells me that Canalis has a gluten-free pasta menu!

Comments

  1. Stacy K says

    I love anything fig! These look amazing. I just ran out of coconut flour making banana bread. I will be trying these as soon as I get some more!

  2. Melody says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this recipe Andrew!!! I love fig cookies and haven’t found a sub since we’ve gone dairy and grain free. This looks so perfectly christmassy and delicious.

  3. says

    I really need to make some time to make things like this! I am craving some cookies, but to actually bake — this time of year is way too busy, and that’s without Christmas! I suppose I’ll have to wait until January. They will still be good then!

  4. Againstthegrain says

    Hey Andrew, I’m from Schenectady, too (the Stockade Historic District, actually, half a block from the Mohawk River). My parents still live in the Stockade, one sister lives in Scotia, and my other sister in Saratoga, but I moved out of state after graduating from college, eventually ending up on the West Coast.

    I love to go back to visit at least once a year, sometime 2 or 3 times a year. Despite the cold and often grey winters, it was a great place to grow up in the 60s and 70s (summers were fantastic), and even though my family isn’t of Italian heritage, we really enjoy many of the enduring Italian-American food traditions and little mom & pop food businesses that still remain open.

  5. says

    These look so yummy! I think my boys would LOVE them! I’d like to invite you to link them up at our Gluten Free Fridays party at my website! It will be live on Friday and we’d love to have you share this or any GF recipe you have :)
    Cindy from vegetarianmamma.com

  6. says

    Thank you for the wonderful recipe! I made it today for part of my Christmas baking, but made pinwheels instead of a little “calzone”. Also, I didn’t have orange marmalade, so I simply added several orange slices and a bit of honey to the fig mixture. Turned out great and they taste amazing. Happy Christmas!!

  7. says

    Thank you for the wonderful recipe! I made it yesterday for part of my Christmas baking, but made pinwheels instead of a little “calzone”. Also, I didn’t have orange marmalade, so I simply added several orange slices and a bit of honey to the fig mixture. Turned out great and they taste amazing. Happy Christmas!!

  8. Stacy K says

    I made these yesterday after finally picking up some more coconut flour. I had to make some substitutions because I couldn’t find any orange marmalade without any junky stuff like corn syrup in it, so I used apricot all fruit instead. I left out the rum, but put in some orange extract. I also left out the walnuts and put a little vanilla stevia in the filling to taste. They are like the best fig newton cookies you have ever tasted!

  9. says

    Thank you for this recipe! We made these tonight but instead of the dough you have on the post, I used the gingerbread dough from Kelly’s ice cream book! Family loved them!! Merry Christmas!

  10. Anonymous says

    Just made these last night and we are still enjoying them today. They are DELICIOUS! Thanks for the recipe!! I plan to try the dough again soon to use the remaining filling and attempt to substitute something for the egg so my egg-allergic husband can try them too.

  11. says

    Incredible! My great-aunt from Italy makes these cookies every Christmas but they are not gluten-free. Now I have a great alternative recipe that I can make for myself. Thanks!

  12. says

    I married into an (Sicilian)Italian family. The Cucidati has always been a staple at Christmastime. I am beyond excited that you have posted this recipe! I will be making these to take to the in-laws for Christmas. I’ll see what they think of a GF version.

  13. Autumn Cappalonga says

    I am so excited about this..I was in the process of converting my husband’s grandmother’s recipe. Her recipe is a lot of work, so I was dreading a recipe fail.. so I am thrilled you posted this!!
    I am trying to find a way to “pin” it, or print it… but I can’t… is there a way?

  14. Autumn Cappalonga says

    I am so excited about this..I was in the process of converting my husband’s grandmother’s recipe. Her recipe is a lot of work, so I was dreading a recipe fail.. so I am thrilled you posted this!!
    I am trying to find a way to “pin” it, or print it… but I can’t… is there a way?

  15. Cari says

    I made them as written and I’m in love! I used orange all fruit… Which looks just like marmalade but without all the junk. I didn’t top them with anything but I might make a honey and coconut milk icing tomorrow. Thank you so much!!!

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