Cuccidati are a heavenly Italian dessert with a sweet, sticky, nutty center and delicate shortbread cookie exterior. Think you don’t like figs? Think again! When you get a taste of that luxurious, zesty center, you won’t be able to stop until the last of the fig cookies are gone!!
Imagine a fig newton – but softer, tastier, and with a crazy citrusy center that’s sweetened and moistened with figs, dates, and even a bit of wine.
It’s almost hard to describe just how delicious these Italian fig cookies are!! It’s a taste you truly have to try yourself to really understand.
If you want something sweet, try this Italian Rainbow Cake.
Delicious? Yes. Decadent? Yes! Cloyingly sweet? Not at all!! That does make them dangerous, though – you’ll finish the whole plate before you can even blink!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Cold, Unsalted Butter – Wonder why I’m being so specific? The butter actually makes a huge difference! The lovely flaky, thick, tender cookie is impossible with melty butter!
- Dried Figs – Whole or halved, the size and shape of the figs doesn’t matter for this fig cookie recipe – they’re getting all chopped up in the food processor, anyways!
A sharp knife is absolutely necessary if you don’t have a food processor on hand.
- Walnuts – Just a little extra nutty flavor and texture! These can be left out if you prefer, but I think they help to add an extra dimension to our Italian fig cookies.
Plus, you really need some nuts for an authentic Italian flavor.
- Orange Zest & Orange Marmalade – Citrusy, sticky goodness coming right up!
The zest builds up the flavor while the marmalade gives a wonderful texture that binds the filling.
Extra orange flavor can be added with a bit of orange extract – but keep in mind that’s some powerful stuff, so use just a bit!
- Marsala Wine – Nice and sweet for this cuccidati recipe!
This is very much a staple of Italian sweets, particularly those that include fruits (especially citrus) and chocolate. Grape juice or brandy are your best substitutes.
- Heavy Cream & Powdered Sugar – Sometimes, the simplest glaze is the best!
Regular whole milk works fine, too, but you definitely want to use powdered sugar rather than granulated for a smooth topping.
Italian Fig Cookies: Hints & Things to Try
- For Fig-Filling Fiends – Extra filling is a-okay as long as you have enough of the cookie dough to compensate.
Make sure it totally wraps around the gooey, nutty center, and you can fully overlap the dough over the seam.
- Hate Dates? Use raisins instead! They’re also soft, squishy, and a good mix of sweet and sour. Don’t like either? Just add some more figs! For me, though, it’s all about the variety.
- Love Nuts? Walnuts aren’t your only options! Hazelnuts, pecans, and almonds all go with the flavors of the glaze and filling beautifully.
- Festive Fillings & Toppings – Did you know that these are also known as Italian Christmas cookies?
Really get into the holiday season by adding chocolate and cinnamon to the filling for a sweet, spiced taste.
Some red and green colored sugar or sprinkles can be added right on top of the glaze for Christmas color!
Storage & Freezing Instructions
These sweets can rest right on your counter — in an airtight container, of course — for up to 5 days! In the fridge, they’ll last even longer.
You can even freeze them for up to 3 months! I recommend giving them a quick round in the freezer, in single layers until somewhat solid, before storing in a freezer bag.
They’re yummy at both fridge- or room-temperature, but be sure to give them a bit of time in the refrigerator or on your counter if serving from frozen.
Cuccidati Recipe FAQ
The word “cuccidati” means “little bracelet.” It actually makes a lot of sense!
When you put on a bracelet, it generally curves around your wrist and overlaps to form a circlet.
And that’s exactly what our shortbread dough does around the filling! It’s a cute, literal name for a very tasty treat!
Yes! As a matter of fact, Italian fig cookies are the ultimate prep ahead dessert!!
The fig center and shortbread dough can each be kept for up to three days before assembling and baking. The fig center generally keeps better, so I would recommend making the filling first if you’re really trying to space out the preparation.
Yes, they do! Otherwise, the glaze will come cascading down the cookies before it even has a chance to set. So, if you want the glaze on the cookie and not around it, let these guys cool to room temp before decorating. Stick them in the fridge if you just can’t wait!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Other Italian Dessert Recipes
Cuccidati (Italian Fig Cookies)
For the Dough:
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
For the Filling:
- 14 ounces dried figs
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup dates, or raisins
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/3 cup orange marmalade
- 1/4 cup sweet Marsala wine
For the Glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 3-4 tablespoons heavy cream, or milk
- Nonpareils, for decorating
- To the bowl of a food processor, add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pulse a few times to combine. (I like to use the dough blade for this.)
- Add cold cubes of butter to the food processor and pulse until the butter is broken down into pea-sized pieces.
- Add the vanilla and eggs to the food processor and mix until the dough comes together.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two equal pieces. Cover each section tightly in plastic wrap, then gently press down to form a disc. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour, or up to overnight.
Make the Filling
- Place the standard metal blade into the food processor. Add dried figs, walnuts, and dates to the food processor and chop until small, even pieces form.
- Add orange zest, marmalade, and Marsala wine. Pulse until the filling forms a chunky “paste”. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- When the dough is chilled (it should be firm all the way through the disc), remove dough from the refrigerator, and unwrap. Using a bench scraper or sharp knife, cut each disc in half, to create 4 equal sized pieces. Rewrap 3 sections of dough and return them to the fridge.
- Place the unwrapped dough on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Cover the top of dough with plastic. Using a rolling pin, roll over the dough to create a rectangle shape, approximately 6 inches by 14 inches. Remove the plastic wrap.
- Divide the fig filling mixture into 4 sections. Form one section of the filling into a log shape, long enough to cover the length of the dough rectangle. Place the filling log in the center of the dough rectangle.
- Fold the dough over the filling from one side and then the other. Flip the cookie log so the seam side is down; press gently to seal the seam closed.
- The dough should still be firm; if it is soft, refrigerate for 15 minutes or so, until firm.
- Using a bench scraper or sharp knife, cut the log, on the diagonal, into 1-inch sections. Arrange cookies 1-inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake at 400°F for 10 minutes, or until bottom edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool completely before decorating.
- To a medium bowl, add powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons cream; whisk to combine. Add more cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you have a thick, smooth glaze.
- Dip the top of one cookie into the glaze, letting the excess drip off. Sprinkle nonpareils over the wet glaze, and transfer dipped cookie to a cooling rack to allow glaze to set (15-30 minutes). Repeat decorating with remaining cookies.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published November 2022
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