Cucidati Cookie Recipe | Holly’s Bird Nest

Growing up in the kitchen with my Grandmother, I was always amazed at the hours she spent and love she put into every recipe and my large Italian family would wait for the holidays to have these fig-filled pastries!

This recipe is probably one of the hardest recipes the first time you make it, but it is an amazing cookie that will be loved by everyone that tries it! We usually make our cookies about 3″-4″ long so one is a large dessert, but I like making them bite-size when I have a lot of guests so everyone can enjoy a couple of them each!

Ingredients

Filling:
  • 8 ounces dried figs, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 (8-ounce) jar honey
  • 3 ounces raisins
  • 3 ounces dates
  • 2 ounces dried cherries
  • 1 cup walnut pieces, toasted
  • 1 cup toasted chopped blanched almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 pinches of ground clove
  • 1 lemon rind, grated (remove any white pith)
  • 1 orange rind grated (remove any white pith)

Pastry:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 3 eggs (1 whisked with 1 teaspoon water, to make an egg wash)
  • 1/4 cup milk

Glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
  • Colored sprinkles

Instructions:

    1. Make the Filling: In a bowl, combine the figs with 4 tablespoons of brandy and let soak overnight or up to 2 weeks.
    2. In a food processor, combine the soaked figs, the remaining 2 tablespoons brandy, and all the remaining filling ingredients. Process until chopped and well combined. My Grandmother ran all the ingredients through a meat grinder. She would tell me stories about bringing her filling ingredients to the butcher to have him grind it for her! Keep chilled until ready to use.
    3. Make the Pastry: In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until it looks like fine crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 eggs and milk. While the motor is running, pour the liquid through, until just combined and a dough is formed. Form the dough into a disk and chill 30 minutes.
    4. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough 1/8-inch thick. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut out large (3-inch long) almond-shaped pieces from the dough. Transfer the pieces to a sheet pan; then chill.
    5. To form the cookies, have ready the filling, the chilled dough pieces, the egg wash with a pastry brush, and a sharp knife. Paint the edges of the dough pieces with egg wash and place 1 teaspoon of filling shaped into an oval in the center of half the pieces. Top each with a second piece of dough and carefully pinch the edges together to seal. Trim the excess dough from around the edges.
    6. Make each dough package look like a bird or fish, by shaping and cutting decorative lines. You can split 1 end to look like a tail, carve rows of lines to look like feathers, cut curved slits for decoration. There are many different shapes that they can be made into, such as wreaths, slippers, and crescents. Re-chill the cookies…Don’t give up…An easier way to roll and cut below!!

    • Now that you have read the original way to make a Cucidati, the easiest way that I fill is to roll out the dough in 6″ strip, put the filling in on one side and flip the dough over to pocket the filling, seal the edge and now you have a long filled cookie that you can cut into the size you would like, Rechill. Making the shapes up above takes a lot of time and patience…I never have enough of either since I have gotten older.

    • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    • Brush the cookies with the egg wash. Bake the cookies until lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes.
    • After cookies have cooled, glaze and sugar the cookies with colored sprinkles. (If I don’t add the sprinkles my grandkids think they are fig newtons!)

I make a lot of different cookies during the holidays, My sister loves making the cuccidati’s and I love making drop cookies, here are my favorites that I am crazy about:

3 Favorite Italian Cookie Recipes

I hope you get a chance to make some of these wonderful Italian inspired cookies that came from my own Grandmother’s kitchen, as I said before everything she did was with so much love and I love sharing them with you!!

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