Cuccidati are Italian cookies made with a short crust pastry dough and filled with an incredible fig, fruit, and nut filling. Topped with a simple glaze and nonpareils, these cookies are a must during the holidays!
Cuccidati, also known as buccellati, are wonderful Italian fig cookies that are popular at Christmastime.
Loaded with a wonderful filling made with figs, dates, nuts, orange peel, chocolate, cinnamon, clove, and Marsala wine, these cookies just taste like Christmas!
While the process may seem long, they are actually very easy to make; the pasta frolla pastry dough is simple to make as are the fig filling and glaze.
But if you've got any doubts, fear not because our step-by-step instructions walk you through the entire process!
Note: We've broken the process out into separate steps with separate ingredient photos for the pasta frolla (short-crust pastry dough) and the fig filling.
Step-by-step process for cuccidati
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
First, make the pastry dough
- To the bowl of a food processor, add 4 cups (500g) of all-puspose flour, ⅔ cup (135g) of granulated sugar, ½ teaspoon of baking powder, ¼ teaspoon of fine sea salt, and 2 teaspoons of orange or lemon zest, and pulse to mix the ingredients. Add 1 cup (226g) of cold and cubed unsalted butter and pulse again until you have small, coarse pieces.
- Add 2 large eggs and a ¼ cup (57g) of whole milk and pulse just a few times until the dough is formed.
- Remove the dough from the food processor and place it on a floured work surface. Flour your hands and knead for just a few seconds until the dough forms a ball.
- Cut the dough in half to form two smaller balls and wrap each one in plastic. Place the balls in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before using.
Next, make the fig filling
- Place 2 ½ cups (355g) of dried figs in a bowl and fill the bowl with enough hot water to cover them. Do the same for ⅔ cup (75g) of raisins and allow both to soak for 30 minutes.
- While the figs and raisins are soaking, add a ¼ cup (35g) of unsalted shelled pistachios, ¼ cup (35g) hazelnuts, ¼ cup (35g) almonds, and ¼ cup (35g) walnuts to a food processor. Add 2 ounces (55g) of dark chocolate, ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and process until coarsely ground. Then move it to a larger bowl and set aside.
- After 30 minutes of soaking, drain and place the figs and raisins on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to dry. Remove the stems from the figs and slice them into quarters, then add them along with the raisins and 1 cup (140g) of pitted dried dates to the bowl of a food processor and process until they are finely chopped. Add ⅓ cup (35g) of candied orange or lemon peel, ⅓ cup (70g) of apricot preserves, and ¼ cup (55g) of marsala wine to the fig mixture and process until a paste is formed.
- Add the fig paste to the bowl with the nut mixture and mix to incorporate.
Finally, assemble, bake, and make the glaze
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and wait 20 minutes for it to come to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350f and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. On a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll out one of the dough balls to ¼ inch thick and form a rectangle roughly 18" long by 5" wide. Use a pastry cutter to trim the edges to form straight edges.
- Spread the fig and nut filling (a log shape sized layer) and use your hands to shape it into a log that's equal in length to the dough rectangle.
- Begin to wrap the dough around the log using your fingers to make sure it's being rolled evenly.
- Use a pastry cutter to trim any excess off the ends, then finish rolling the dough to complete the log. Dip your finger in water and run it along the edge of the dough to create a seal on the seam. Note: Save the dough scraps for the next batch. Depending on how long you roll the dough and how much filling you use, you should be able to roll out approximately 3 18x5-inch strips of dough.
- Place the log seam side down and cut it into 1 to 2-inch-long pieces using the pastry cutter or a very sharp knife. Place the cookies on a baking sheet and repeat the process for the remaining dough and fig filling. Bake the cookies for 20-23 minutes, or until lightly golden on the bottom. Move the cuccidati to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely before decorating with the icing and sprinkles.
- Combine 2 cups (240g) of confectioner's sugar and 5 tablespoons (75g) of heavy cream in a bowl and whisk until smooth. You may need to add a little more heavy cream (or water) a little at a time if the mixture is too thick. You want the mixture to not be so thick that it doesn't spread, but not runny. You should be able to dip the cuccidati into the glaze and not have it run down the sides.
- Dip each cuccidati into the glaze and top with sprinkles while the glaze is still wet.
- Allow the cuccidati glaze to dry completely before serving or storing. The size of your cuccidati is up to you. We included this image so you can see that some are larger than others. This is entirely a personal preference.
Top tips for cuccidati
- The dough. The pasta frolla needs time in the refrigerator so be sure to not skip this step. It needs at least an hour but can be made 1-2 days ahead of time. When you remove it from the fridge, give it a good 15-20 minutes before you start to work with it to allow it to come to room temperature.
- The filling. The components of the cuccidati filling can be tweaked somewhat. The main component are the figs so I wouldn't recommend changing that, but the nuts can be substituted for other types of nuts. The Marsala wine can also be substituted for rum or whisky if you'd like. The filling can be taste tested before you use it and if you find you'd like to add more of an ingredient, such as chocolate, feel free to do so!
- Glaze. Traditional cuccidati are glazed with a mixture of egg white and confectioner's sugar. We've opted to use a simpler glaze consisting of powdered sugar and heavy cream. Start by mixing the 5 tablespoons of heavy cream with the 2 cups of sugar and if more is needed add just a little bit more cream or water, a teaspoon at a time, until the perfect consistency is achieved.
- Flour your surfaces. It's really helpful to ensure the work surfaces are adequately floured to prevent the dough from sticking. That includes the rolling pin and your hands. If the dough is sticking, it's helpful to use a pastry cutter or bench scraper that's also been floured to slide beneath the dough and loosen it from the cutting board.
Cookies are an important part of any holiday, and Christmas is no exception! Here are some of our favorite cookies to make around Christmastime, in addition to the cuccidati.
- Pignoli cookies - soft and chewy almond-flavored cookies studded with pignoli nuts.
- Pizelle - thin waffle-like cookies flavored with anise and dusted with powdered sugar.
- Lemon ricotta cookies - light and airy lemon cookies with a simple glaze.
- Reginelle cookies - biscuit style cookies topped with sesame seeds.
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For the pasta frolla dough
- 4 cups (500g) all-purpose flour plus more for rolling
- ⅔ cup (135g) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons lemon or orange zest
- 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter cold and cubed
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
For the filling
- 2 ½ cups (355g) dried figs
- 1 cup(140g) dried dates
- ⅔ cup(75g) raisins
- ⅓ cup(35g) candied orange peel
- ¼ cup(35g) pistachios shelled and unsalted
- ¼ cup(35g) hazlenuts
- ¼ cup(35g) almonds
- ¼ cup(35g) walnuts
- ⅓ cup(70g) apricot preserves
- ¼ cup(55g) Marsala wine
- 2 ounces(55g) dark chocolate
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
For the icing
- 2 cups(240g) confectioner's sugar sifted
- 5-7 tablespoons (75g) heavy cream may need more to achieve desired consistency
- nonpareil sprinkles for decorating
For the pasta frolla dough
- Add the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and lemon zest to the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix the ingredients. Add the cold butter cubes and pulse again until you have small, coarse pieces.
- Add the eggs and milk and pulse just a few times until the dough is formed.
- Place the dough onto a floured work surface and knead for a few seconds only; just enough until the dough is together in a ball.
- But the dough ball in half, wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour before using. The dough can be made 1-2 days ahead of time.
For the filling
- Soak the dried figs and raisins in a bowl with warm water and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
- While the figs and raisins are sitting in the water, add the nuts, dark chocolate, cinnamon, and cloves to a food processor and process until coarsely ground, then move to a large bowl and set aside.
- After 30 minutes, drain and place the figs and raisins on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to dry.
- Remove the stems from the figs and slice them into quarters, then add them along with the dates and raisins to the bowl of a food processor and process until they are finely chopped.
- Add the candied orange peel, Marsala wine, and apricot preserves and process until a paste is formed.
- Add the fig paste to the nut mixture and mix to incorporate.
Assemble and bake
- Preheat your oven to 350f and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and wait 20 minutes for it to come to room temperature.
- Cut off a piece of dough and roll it out on a floured surface to approximately ¼" thick, 18" long, and 5" wide rectangle. Use a pastry cutter or sharp knife to remove the excess edges of the dough to form a straight rectangle.
- Take approximately half the fig and nut filling and roll it into a log that's equal in length to the dough rectangle and roll the dough around the log. You can use a bit of water on your finger to create a seal on the seam.
- Place the log seam side down and cut it into 1-2 inch pieces using a pastry cutter or very sharp knife. Place the cookies on a baking sheet and repeat the process with the remaining dough.
- Bake the cookies for 20-23 minutes, or until lightly golden on the bottom. Move the cuccidati to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before decorating with the icing and sprinkles.
Icing and decorating
- In a medium-sized bowl combine the heavy cream and confectioner's sugar and whisk until glossy. If the mixture is too thick to work with, add more heavy cream (or water) a little at a time until the desired consistency is achieved. It should be thick enough to dip the cookie into but not runny.
- Dip the tops of the cuccidati into the icing and top with nonpareils while the icing is still wet.
- Place the cookies on a baking sheet and allow the icing to set completely before serving or storing.