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Sicilian Fig Cookies


Mary Ann Esposito


Fig-filled cookies are an absolute must on any Sicilian table. I remember my mother making this heavy fruit-laden cookie that reminded me of Fig Newtons. It seems she gave them to just about everyone at holiday time, including the milkman.


4 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk

2 cups dried figs, soaked in water
2 cups dried dates, pitted (About 14 Medjool dates)
1 1/2 cups raisins
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup orange marmalade
2/3 cup walnuts or almonds, coarsely chopped
1 large egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
Colored sprinkles


Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a large bowl. Add the sugar and stir well. Cut in the shortening with a fork and work the mixture until it looks like corn meal. In a bowl, beat the egg, vanilla, and milk together. Add to the flour mixture and work the mixture with your hands into a rough dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth. The dough will be soft. Cut the dough into 4 pieces, wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and chill for 45 minutes.

To make the filling, grind the figs, dates, and raisins in a meat grinder or in a food processor until coarse; or coarsely chop. Place the mixture in a bowl, add the honey, cinnamon, marmalade, and nuts and mix well. The mixture will be thick. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.

Divide the dough into quarters and work with 1 piece of dough at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered. On a floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to a 12-inch square. Cut the dough into 4-X-3-inch rectangles, and spoon 2 tablespoons of the filling mixture down the center of each rectangle. Carefully fold over the long edges of each rectangle to meet in the center, then pinch the seam to close it securely, and turn the cookie seam side down. Pinch the ends closed and fold the ends under. Shape the cookies into crescents and place seam side down on the cookie sheets. Make 2 or 3 diagonal slits in the top of each crescent with scissors. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with colored sprinkles. 

Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Note: I wrap the crescents individually in plastic wrap, twist the ends, and tie them with ribbons. They make wonderful Christmas presents. They can be made ahead and frozen.

Note:  You may eliminate the egg wash and make a confectioners' sugar glaze; when the cookies are still warm, drizzle the glaze over them and sprinkle with the colored sprinkles.

This recipe is featured on show 1909 - Sicilian Cookies.

This recipe is from Ciao Italia by Mary Ann Esposito.

item recipe is featured in Episode 1909 of Season 19.

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This collection epitomizes the tradition and love that goes into all of Mary Ann Esposito's cooking. Like her award-winning TV series, this book will live on for years with all of those who cook her delicious recipes. My kids love everything Mary Ann cooks!"


Leave a comment

  1. moraima's avatar


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    You are asome, i am from Puerto Rico and i love italian food all pasta and cheese i love you show and gracias por la receta my mom like too. Que tengas bonito dia y que dios te bendiga¤ God bless you.
  2. anna b.'s avatar

    anna b.

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    Maryann ... I love this recipe, it is exactly what my mama made way back when ... she learned it from my Father, who came from Calabria. The only difference is that she grated orange rind into the fig mixture, and It was so delicious. Give it a try. Love your show ... been watching you forever and your recipes all remind me of my wonderful parents in our Italian household, in our Italian neighborhood in the Bronx, NY, where everyone spoke the mother tongue and the aroma of Sunday Gravy permeated everywhere after Church. I miss those days, and thank you for bringing them back to me.
  3. Carol Giardina Brewer's avatar

    Carol Giardina Brewer

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    I have looked for the receipe for Cucidati for years. My Sicilian grandmother would make this every Christmas and hide them. She would then tell me where they were and not to go there. When I saw this receipe on the web site it brought happy memory tears to my eyes. They were the only dessert I remember her making.
  4. Pam Banno's avatar

    Pam Banno

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    My Aunt Mary would make these exact cookies every Christmas and mail them to me in Chicago from Burbank, California. These are awesome cookies, and I am so pleased that you had this recipe. She would send them in two shoe boxes--one for my Dad with raisins, and another box for me without.
  5. Marcia's avatar


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    Cannot locate wonderful Madeline recipe which I just finished watching on PBS.
    Please reply
  6. Gertrude Wells's avatar

    Gertrude Wells

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    Mary Ann

    Years ago an Italian lady made filled cookies. She took chocolate cookies, crshed them and added nuts an chocolate chips I think and probably marmalade to bind the ingredients together then assembled like your cookies and baked them. Does this an Italian cookie recipe.

    Can you help me find this recipe.
    Thank you
  7. Tracy's avatar


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    I'm looking for the recipe for an Italian cookie filled with a cream I remember was made with corn starch and choc chips. The cookies were huge and sprinkled with conf sugar and cinnamon. Anyone heard of these wonderful cookies?
  8. Lois Raimondi Munchel's avatar

    Lois Raimondi Munchel

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    I've followed this reciepe now for a few years and my family loves them. Reminds me of my youth. My grandfather was a baker in Sicily and these cookies are just like I remember them.
  9. Lois Raimondi Munchel's avatar

    Lois Raimondi Munchel

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    I've followed this recipe now for a few years and my family loves them. Reminds me of my youth. My grandfather was a baker in Sicily and these cookies are just like I remember them.
  10. Irene Marie's avatar

    Irene Marie

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    Mary Ann, I love your show and recipes. I bake alot and so do my three girls. We embrace our Italian heritage.We love watching your show. You certainly do us proud. Your an excellent cook and baker!!! Ciao!!!
  11. Geraldine Trutanich's avatar

    Geraldine Trutanich

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    Dear Mary Ann,
    This year I have a bumper crop of black figs. As a child my mother and many of her Italian friends would bake a storm for weddings etc. I wrote down most of the recipes but I don't remember how they cooked the figs for cucidati's. I noticed your recipe calls for dried figs. Any suggestions?
  12. Joanne's avatar


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    I am trying to make the Italian Fig cookies. I can't get passed the dough. It is very dry and doesn't come together. Help!
  13. Sandra Giordano Frost's avatar

    Sandra Giordano Frost

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    My Grandmother also grated orange rind, no marmalade,also had candied citrus fruits ground in, we would roll out the dough, spread the filling, and then another layer of dough! and cut out with cookie cutters or different size glasses, and decorate like ornaments with the sprinkles or little silver or gold balls. the edges from the cutouts were squeezed into a ball and baked.
  14. Audrey's avatar


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    I'm making these for the third year now and I can't wait to share them with friends and family. We have a fig bush in the yard so I was so excited to learn this recipe. After drying them I packed several jars in brandy and am using these brandied figs in the cookies. The flavors are wonderful when coming together with the orange, honey and nuts.

    I'm going to try your idea- Sandra Giordano Frost, and layer the dough-filling-dough for cut out cookies. If it works it'll be a great time-saver!
  15. louise  marchesani's avatar

    louise marchesani

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    i have a fig tree in my yard. in summer time How can i dry them out ? so i can make( Cucidati ) fig cookies at Christmas time . thank you & a blessed Christmas to you & your's LOUISE
  16. louise  marchesani's avatar

    louise marchesani

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    i have a fig tree in my yard. in summer time How can i dry them out ? so i can make( Cucidati ) fig cookies at Christmas time . thank you & a blessed Christmas to you & your's LOUISE
  17. Theresa Fillizola's avatar

    Theresa Fillizola

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    Geraldine Trutanish, I too have a fig tree and every year I make Cucidati. They don't yield all at once so I do this every time we pick a batch. After all how much can you eat and give away? I cut the figs in half, lay them on a cookie sheet skin side down. Bake in a very low oven 200 degrees for a good hour. I then put them in a container, freeze until I am ready to make the cookies. I make the exact dough, but add orange rind, lemon rind and apricot preserves to the filling. My mom made them every year and my job as a child was to sprinkle the colored candy on them. Yum yum.
  18. Lois Raimondi Munchel's avatar

    Lois Raimondi Munchel

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    First made these a couple yrs. ago and family loved them. I remember them from my childhood. Only problem I had was that I had so much filling left over after I used up all the dough. I simply froze it and used the filling the following yr.. Then I only had to make the dough. I don't understand why I had so much filling left. Did anyone else run into this problem.
  19. Pat K's avatar

    Pat K

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    I live in your back yard (Lancaster, NY) I love the recipe I use a little liquor and oranges zest and grind a orange up. They are wonderful. I am an avid watcher of your TV show on our public network Channel 3.
    Keep up the ghood work.

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