Cuccidati cookies are Italian fig and walnut pastries that are traditionally served during Italian Christmas gatherings. Cuccidati is called several names including Bucellati, Sicilian fig cookies, and Italian fig cookies. They are one of the most special Italian cookies and are considered to be one of the most iconic desserts from the Sicilian region.
These Italian cookies are said to have originated in Palermo but have been mixed with Arab flavors over the years. People have been making them with different local nuts and dried fruits such as figs and apricots but others such as raisins, figs, and dates were said to have been introduced by the Arab traders in the region dating back to at least a century ago.
- Cuccidati is such a sacred, heirloom recipe for Italian families, Cuccidati has different variations depending on their regions and the family recipes that have shaped their individual histories.
- People have likened Cuccidati to Italian Fig Newtons. The term Cuccidati means “little bracelets” but they resemble fluffy, little pillows or plump pouches.
- Other Italian dialects would refer to Cuccidati as “Vurcidattu” and “Purciddatu.” Sardinian dialect calls them “Papassini” while Calabrese dialect would say “Petrali” and “San Martini.”
Cuccidati Buying Guide
Cuccidati is best bought from traditional Italian bakers or from Italian home bakers who are aware of Cuccidati’s rich Italian heritage. Even the most meticulous Italian bakers and eaters would consider the dough to filling ratio to preserve the dignity of natural flavors.
Some people prefer to have a strong orange scent and flavor; however, others think it’s unnecessary to preserve the richness of the dried figs. Others would also love to add alcohol extracts and other spirits including bourbon, whiskey, and rum.
Cuccidati Production & Farming in Texas
Texans have long welcomed Cuccidati into their hearts. Italian Texans have long settled in the Lone Star State bringing with them their vibrant culture, language, fashion, and cuisine.
Italian bakeries have dotted Texas serving Texans freshly baked Italian pastries such as Cannolis, Biscotti, Tiramisu, and of course Cuccidati. Most of the ingredients are sourced locally but some bakeries insist on using imported ingredients from Italy to retain the original flavors and textures although they cannot be entirely replicated.
It helps to know that the climate of Texas is well-suited for nut and fig production. Both nut and figs adapt well to weather and soil conditions making them easy to acquire for bakers and commercial producers.
Preservatives and Chemicals
Cuccidati cookies are special Italian pastries and are handmade every Christmas. Thus, it should not contain any chemicals or preservatives that would compromise Cuccidati’s original flavors and textures.
However, that is not the case with commercially produced Cuccidati. Some preservatives and chemicals are added to enhance its appearance, taste, and extend its shelf-life.
Dough conditioners and improvers help in making the dough easier to knead during the baking process. It also encourages yeast growth by increasing gas production and retention.
Cuccidati can be packaged in several ways. For home-made gifts, you can store Cuccidati in a box lined with parchment paper and just give it away to friends. For a more polished but still home-made look, you can put the Cuccidati in tin cans.
Commercially manufactured Cuccidati are packaged in plastic before being placed inside paper boxes.
Italians traditionally eat Cuccidati during Christmas, but its deliciousness deserves to be enjoyed any time of the year.
You can serve it after a meal and pair it with a sweet, dessert wine. Its buttery and crumbly texture also goes well when paired with cappuccino, brewed coffee, or even warm teas.
Cuccidati is a sturdy cookie because of the nuts and fruit preserves mixed in its dough. The cookie dough and fruit filling can be made ahead of time. Keep the dough and filling refrigerated not longer than 2 days. When you are ready to bake, thaw the dough for at least 2 hours to make it pliable.
Once you have shaped the dough and filling into cookies, place it in a plastic bag. You can bake the frozen cookies immediately without thawing. Just increase the baking time or increase your temperature. It all depends on your oven and your baking environment.
The Yuletide Season is the best time to enjoy baking these traditional Italian cookies with your Nonna!
2 cups raisins
3/4 pound pitted dates
3/4 cup sugar
2 small navel oranges, peeled and quartered
1/3 pound dried figs
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup water
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup 2% milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons 2% milk
- Place the first seven ingredients in a food processor; cover and process until finely chopped. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Divide dough into four portions; cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Roll out each portion between two sheets of waxed paper into a 16-in. x 6-in. rectangle. Spread 1 cup filling lengthwise down the center of each. Starting at a long side, fold dough over filling; fold the other side over the top. Pinch seams and edges to seal. Cut each rectangle diagonally into 1-in strips. Place seam side down on parchment-lined baking sheets.
- Bake at 400° for 10-14 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Combine confectioners’ sugar and enough milk to achieve desired consistency; drizzle over cookies. Store in an airtight container.