Fig Cookie : Cuchidahti (picture courtesy of Italian Desserts)

I know, I know; I hear you thinking “This is the 18th century frontier. There’s no Italians, no Bufana, no St Francis of Assisi live nativity scene (well, Martin Luther liked  the idea and made it his own so maybe there’s a little bit of a connection). I made some cuchidahti tonight and it reminded me of my Great Aunt Rose’s cookies. Here’s how it goes:

Ingredients: (makes about 3 doz. You will have left over filling and will probably need to make another batch of dough but you can always turn left over dough to sugar cookies .

Pastry dough:

2 large eggs at room temp

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 2/3 cups all purpose flour

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp lemon zest, the same of orange zest (I use tangerine)

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (if you’re thinking of fat, use 1 stick margarine and half stick butter), room temp

FILLING:

9 ounces dried mission figs (Dole- about a bag and a half), stems discarded

1/2 cp raisins

3/4 cp honey

1/3 cp orange juice OR one whole orange cut into pieces, skin and all (I do the latter)

1 tbs nutmeg  (some people use cinnamon instead- your preference)

1 tsp lemon zest grated

1/4 cp Amaretto or light rum (if orange juice, reduce to a glug; if whole orange, go with the 1/4 cp)

1 cp chopped walnuts or hazelnuts

1 large egg, beaten for egg wash

To make:

The dough: Wisk eggs and vanilla in a bowl to blend. Mix the flour, sugar, the zests, and salt in a large bowl. Chunk out the butter and add , rubbing it into the flour until the butter is small and grainy. Add the egg mixture and mix with a fork until the dough comes together. Gather the dough into a ball ;it will be kind of dry at first but will incorporate as the butter disperses. Divide the dough into 2  and flatten into disks- wrap with plastic and refridge for an hour.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350.

The Filling: Add the figs, orange chunks, raisins to food processor and pulse to finely chop. Pulse in spices, honey, rum or Amaretto and orange juice (if using). Scrape the paste into a bowl and stir in the nuts.

TO MAKE:

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. You’ll be baking one sheet at a time on the middle shelf.

Roll 1 disc of dough on a floured surface to about 1/8 + inch thick. Cut with 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter. Refridge the scraps while you assempble the cookies. Wash with egg and put  a small spoonful of fig in the middle. Fold the dough over and pinch to seal.  Don’t worry about fig over flow- just clean up the edges. Brush egg over tops and  Bake about 18 minutes until pale golden brown. While the first sheet is baking, Repeat the process with the 2nd disc and scraps.

Cool the cookies on a wire rack.  Some people make a confectioner’s sugar glaze and drizzle over them and then use colored sugar or sprinkles but I like them plain as the pastry is delicious and the sweet of the fig and honey is just enough.

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