kitchenklutz: spices in bottles (spice bottles)
[personal profile] kitchenklutz
Over Thanksgiving my mom and stepdad came out to Boston to visit, and we had many a culinary discussion. One of the things that came up was mention of a traditional Sicilian cookie that my stepdad has made, which (I believe) he inherited from a distant grandmother from the old country. Called "cuchidades", these are fig-stuffed cookies -- like fig newtons, after a fashion, but sooooo much better.

I managed to track down a recipe online and then modified it to my own satisfaction. The result has been wildly popular with pretty much everyone I've introduced it to.


Fig-Stuffed Sicilian Cookies (Cuchidades)

Ingredients:

FOR THE DOUGH:

* 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
* ⅓ cup granulated sugar
* ¾ tsp. baking powder
* ½ tsp. salt
* ½ cup (8 tbsp.) chilled vegetable shortening, butter, or margarine
* 2 eggs
* ¼ cup milk

FOR THE FILLING:

* 2 cups (about 12 oz.) Calimyrna figs, stems removed
* ½ cup raisins
* ½ cup dried cranberries
* ⅓ cup slivered almonds
* ¼ cup granulated sugar
* ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
* 1 tsp. grated lemon zest (or Penzey's lemon peel)
* pinch freshly ground black pepper
* ¼ cup orange juice

FOR THE ICING:

* 1 ½ cups confectioners' sugar
* 2 to 3 tbsp. milk (alternately: orange juice)
* ¼ tsp. vanilla extract (alternately: ½ tsp orange extract)
* colored sprinkles (for decorating)


Method:

TO MAKE THE DOUGH:

In food processor or by hand, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Distribute shortening over flour and pulse or cut in until mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Whisk eggs with milk, then pour through feed tube with motor running or stir in by hand. Mix just until dough begins to clump together. Place dough on a large sheet of plastic wrap, flatten to about a 6-inch square, then wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days, or freeze up to 2 weeks.

TO MAKE FILLING:

Place figs, raisins, almonds, sugar, cinnamon, zest, and pepper in work bowl of food processor. Process until fruits and nuts are very finely chopped. With motor running, add orange juice through feed tube and process only until blended. Filling will be moist and sticky. (Can be used immediately or refrigerated up to 2 days. Return to room temperature before using.)

WHEN READY TO BAKE:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 large baking sheets.

2. Divide dough in 4 parts and work with one at a time, keeping remainder refrigerated. Divide filling into 4 parts.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 4x14-inch rectangle. (Don't worry if edges are ragged.) Use your hands to distribute 1/4 of filling in a 1-inch strip down center of dough. Use a spatula to help roll long sides of dough over center to enclose filling. Moisten fingers to press down seam. Use a sharp knife to cut filled dough roll into 1-inch diagonal slices. Place slices inverted so side seam is down, about 1-inch apart on baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

4. Bake 18 to 20 minutes until bottoms are pale golden, and dough is very lightly colored. Dough should not brown. Cool on racks.

TO MAKE THE ICING:

Whisk confections' sugar with 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla to make a thick drizzling consistency. If necessary, add milk by 1/2 teaspoonful.

Drizzle tops of cookies liberally with icing, then quickly cover with colored sprinkles before icing sets. Let icing set at least 1 hour. Store tightly covered up to 5 days. (Cookies can be frozen up to 2 weeks.)

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.


The first time I made this, I made the icing with milk and vanilla; the second time I made it with orange juice and orange extract. Overall, I'm far more satisfied with my second batch, but your mileage may vary -- try both and see which one you prefer!
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March 2015

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