Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cucidati (Sicilian Filled Cookies)

My family is passionate about all things food.  We're Italian/Sicilian and Irish - What a combination that is!  Growing up my Sicilian grandmother always had the BIG Sunday dinner - homemade pasta, meatballs and breads.  She made Ricotta Pie, Tomato Pie, Spinach Pie, all of it from scratch.  She taught my mother how to make all things Italian/Sicilian, AND my mother was all Irish - go figure that one out!  My mother was a fantastic cook in her own right, she made food with love.   But, my grandmother made her an even better cook by teaching her how to make Italian/Sicilian food from scratch, and more love!  You would have thought my mother was Italian/Sicilian after eating those homemade meals. One of the other things my mother leaned how to make was Cucidati (Sicilian Filled Cookies).  My mother was a learner, who would stick to something until she mastered it, and she mastered these cookies to a point of perfection.  Unfortunately for me, in her cookbook she did not have measurements for the ingredients just the ingredient itself.  So I had to wing it, and change up some things when I made these for the first time.  The best part about these cookies, they are totally handmade - hand cut and hand filled - so they don't have to be perfect in shape and size.  Recipe is below.

This is the recipe as it appears handwritten in her cookbook.  I mixed everything for the filling in the food processor.
 Cutting the pastry dough and rolling them out.
Filling the dough and rolling.
Rolled and lined up on baking sheets.
 Baked and cooling off.  And yes, some will run out of the ends, don't worry there is more inside!

 Cucidati (Sicilian Filled Cookies)

For the dough:
4 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup of Crisco Vegetable Shortening
1 egg
1/2 cup milk, skim is fine
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
(1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water to use for sealing the cookies)

For the filling:
2 - 12 oz cans Solo Prune Plum Filling
1 cup of raisins
1/4 cup semi - sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups slivered almonds
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup apple butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp orange zest

Directions for Dough:
In a large bowl whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together.  Cut the vegetable shortening into cubes, then cut into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or fork, until mixture becomes crumbly.  In another bowl, beat the egg, milk and vanilla together.  Add to the flour and mix with clean hands until the dough forms a ball. Knead it until the dough becomes soft.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 35 - 45 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper. While the dough is chilling make the filling.

Directions for the Filling:
In a food processor, process the prune filling, raisins, chocolate and almonds.  Next, add the honey, jam, apple butter, cinnamon and orange zest.  The mixture should now be like a thick paste. 

Directions for Making the Cookies: 
On a floured surface, roll out 1/4 of the dough and cut into strips.  Then cut those strips into 1 1/2  x  2 1/2 inch rectangles.  I roll each of my rectangles out before filling so they are on the thin side, not thick.  Fill each cookie with about 1/2 - 3/4  teaspoon of filling.  Brush egg wash on both ends, roll and seal.  Place seam side down on baking sheet, brush each cookie with the egg wash and sprinkle with colored nonpareils. Bake for 20 -25 minutes or lightly browned.  Remove from oven, let cool for a minute or two, then transfer to cooling rack. Some of the filling will run out while baking.  Store in an airtight container.  Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

NOTE 1: Traditional Cucidati have a fig filling, I like figs, but my family does not.  Use 2 cups of dried chopped or canned figs, if you like them, in this recipe instead of the prune filling. 

NOTE 2:  My mothers recipe included a tip - if the filling is too thin add unseasoned breadcrumbs to the mix.  I didn't need to do that, but by all means if you feel it's too thin thicken it with the breadcrumbs.

NOTE 3: Don’t be afraid to change the filling with other fruits you like.  They sell the fruit in cans, ready to use.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to try this recipe today. Thanks for posting it.