Served during Christmas and on St. Joseph’s Day, these Italian fig cookies (Sicilian treasures) were made by my grandmother, aunt, and now two generations of cousins. Make them for any special occasion or holiday. They were not made gluten free, but they are now! Make them soft like Fig Newtons or crunchy like biscotti. People that are not on a gluten free diet usually enjoy them more than their traditional counterpart.
The original recipe that my aunt wrote down dictated from my grandmother is entitled, “occidate”. However, that may just be a Sicilian dialect. I’ve also heard them called “cuccidati” and even “buccellati”.
If you enjoy these cookies, you may also enjoy my Gluten Free Biscotti Recipe.
Gluten Free Italian Fig Cookies – Cuccidati – Occidate – Buccellati
No matter what you call them, these gluten free fig cookies are full of complex flavors and textures, and have been know to stir up great emotions and memories.
To Make the Filling:
- In the bowl of your food processor, pulse the figs, glazed fruit, walnuts, almonds, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice until combined. Form into a dough mass using your hands.
- Add honey and brandy and pulse until thoroughly combined. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least for 4 hours or until firm.
To Make the Cookie Dough:
- Sift together the flour and baking powder into the bowl of your mixer. Add the sugar and butter. Combine using the paddle attachment. (My grandmother used to mix both steps with her hands.)
- Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and add eggs and vanilla. Knead until soft dough forms, about 5 minutes. If the dough is not moist enough, add hot water a teaspoon at a time until you can form it into cookies. Divide the dough into four equal portions. Wrap each in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.
To Form and Fill the Cookies***:
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two 12x17-inch baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats; set aside.
- On a lightly floured surface (I use a large silicone mat), roll out a piece of dough to 1/8-inch thick, 15 inches long and 4 inches. Place a scant 1/2 cup (about 7 tablespoons) of filling to form a strip in the center of the dough. (I place four scoops of filling using a spring-action scooper that holds 1-3/4 tablespoons.)
- Fold the back portion forward, towards the middle.
- Continue rolling the dough until you end up the seam side down.
- Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches away from the front edge of the pan. Cut slits on the front side almost halfway through the width of the dough. Bend the sides backwards to form a ring, leaving about 1/2 to 1-inch space between the ends. Refrigerate until you make the second one which you will slice elsewhere and transfer to the same baking sheet. (If you own an oven that can accommodate two baking pans on the center shelf, repeat the above process with the remaining two pieces of dough. If not, bake separately. You also freeze the dough and make just one.)
- Place on the center rack of the oven and bake for 20 - 25 minutes, depending upon how soft you like them. If you want them crunchy, bake at 350 for 20 minutes and then at 325 for an additional 18 minutes.
- Whisk together the egg and water to make the egg wash. Brush each cookie with egg wash and sprinkle the top of the dough with colored sprinkles. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Freeze cookies that will not be consumed within 2 days.
*Scant = a little less than
**To roast nuts, spread them on an ungreased, rimmed baking sheet and bake for 3 minutes. Turn them over and bake an additional 3 minutes.
***My grandmother's recipe did not state how to form the cookies, but I describe how I made them.
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