Nothing gets you in the Christmas spirit quite like making these Christmas Italian Fig Cookies, and *all* the sprinkles.
Cookies are basically the point of Christmas, right?
Whether you’re making them for a party, Santa, or just a cozy night in by the fireplace, there’s always a reason to whip up a batch of cookies during the holidays.
Italian Fig Cookies
Some culinary experts say that the modern Italian Fig Cookies, Cucidati, Sicilian Fig Cookies, or Christmas Fig Cookies, whatever you want to call them actually come from way back to the time of the Roman Empire, and that the recipe is an offshoot from the Roman pastry called Panificatus. Another story is that one of this pastry’s many names, particularly buccellati, come from the Latin buccellatum, which some say means “bites.”
Whichever of them may be true, one thing is for sure, these deliciously moist, tender and sweet, fruit filled cookies have been part of Italian weddings, Christmases, and other special occasions for many Italian households for centuries.
A lot like a Fig Newton but this ain’t store bought cookie, and even if you’re a fig newton hater, you’ll love these!
Some recipes vary but the “standard” typically includes figs, dates, raisins, and walnuts and is bound together with honey and orange marmalade.
How to Make Italian Fig Cookies
Admittedly, these cookies are slightly time consuming but totally worth the effort, you will notice that it is usually one of the first cookies to disappear from your cookie platter.
So when it’s time to make these Christmas Italian Fig Cookies, my cookie strategy is to spread the process over three parts/days.
The dough can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. The filling can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
The cookies can be stored between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container for up to 10 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
Make the Dough and the Filling
If you have a food processor, definitely use it for processing both the dough as well as the figs/marmalade mixture. With the help of a food processor, these two activities can be completed in less than 30 minutes (including the clean-up time). If you don’t have one, use mixer for sugar cookie dough and cut the stems off the figs and chop them as finely as possible.
Place all of your dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse the cut-up butter until you get a coarse meal. Add the eggs and continue to pulse until the dough forms into a ball.
Remove the dough from the food processor and knead it a bit on a floured surface. Divide the dough in third, put them in a bowl, cover and refrigerate.
Once your food processor is clean again, basically you need to put all the figs and the rest of the filling ingredients in the food processor and pulse it until finely chopped. One thing I would suggest, is that it might be easier, to pulse the figs first and then add the rest of the ingredients,
and blend together in order to get the desired paste-like consistency. Place in a bowl, wrap it up and refrigerate in order for the flavors to blend.
Make the Christmas Italian Fig Cookies
Now for the fun part! Grab your rolling pin, your fig mixture and a piece of dough.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough in a rectangle shape, you can decide how big or small to make your fig cookies, it all depends on how big or small you make your rectangles(mine are about 10 inches long and 2-3 inches wide, but I experimented with many sizes and shapes, and encourage you to do the same!). Now, don’t feel bad if you are not able to roll out a perfect rectangle….mine certainly are not perfect.
Scrape the filling onto a lightly floured surface and knead to shape into a log. Place the filling in the center of your rectangle, fold the side over and seal them on the other side of filling. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to slice. Continue rolling until all of your dough and filling is finished.
Slice, Bake and Decorate The Christmas Italian Fig Cookies
Are you ready to make some more decisions?
When it comes to slice and decorate these wonderful cookies, you have a couple of options. You can slice them into logs, horseshoes, large wreaths and the shape of a X. If you are a fan of multi-colored sprinkles, you can glaze the cookies and sprinkle away or keeping things simple just dusting icing sugar over the tops.
How to Store Christmas Italian Fig Cookies to Stay Fresh
Most cookies will stay fresh when stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about three days. After that, it’s best to freeze them. In addition to having a wonderful flavor, these cookies freeze well and travel wonderfully when properly packed. If you want the cookies to have a longer shelf life, freeze them before putting them in an airtight container, and they will last up to a month.
- For the Dough:
- 2¾ cup flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 6 Tbsp butter, cold & cubed
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 Tbsp cold water
- For the Filling:
- 12 oz dried figs
- ¼ cup almonds
- 3 Tbsp apricot preserves
- 2 Tbsp orange juice
- For the Glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 Tbsp milk or water
- ½ tsp vanilla
- Place all of your dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse the cut-up butter until you get a coarse meal. Add the eggs, vanilla and water and continue to pulse until the dough forms into a ball.
- Remove the dough from the food processor and knead it a bit on a floured surface. This is where you may need to sprinkle a little extra flour as you go. Form the dough into a ball, put in a bowl, cover and refrigerate.
- Once your food processor is clean again add the almonds and figs. Pulse until roughly chopped.
- Add in the apricot preserves and orange juice and mix until finely chopped. It will resemble a thick fig jam. Place in a bowl, wrap it up and refrigerate in order for the flavors to blend.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough in a rectangle shape, you can decide how big or small to make your fig cookies, it all depends on how big or small you make your rectangles(mine are about 10 inches long and 2-3 inches wide, but I experimented with many sizes and shapes, and encourage you to do the same!).
- Scrape the filling onto a lightly floured surface and knead to shape into a log. Place the filling in the center of your rectangle, fold the side over and seal them on the other side of filling. Gently roll into a smooth log.
- Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate until firm enough to slice. Continue rolling until all of your dough and filling is finished.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut cookie log into 1 inch bite size cookies. Repeat with all the dough. Place the cookies onto a parchment lined baking sheet. They don't grow so you can put them pretty close together.
- Bake for 14 mins or until just lightly golden. Cool completely.
- For the icing, mix together the powdered sugar, vanilla, and enough milk to achieve the desired consistency. You’ll want the icing to be thick enough not to be runny, but still easily spreadable.
- Ice the tops of the cookies and decorate with sprinkles, if desired.
- Let the icing set completely before storing in an airtight container.
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