A couple of years ago my siblings and I got together one winter day and decided to try and make cucidati, aka Italian fig cookies. This particular recipe belonged to my great grandma Runza who immigrated to New York from Sciliy almost a century ago and her recipe has been passed down from generation to generation. My uncle has made them every Christmas since I could remember and now my brothers, sister-in-law's and I are continuing the tradition.
The first year was experimental, the second we picked our uncle's brain trying to figure out how to make our cookies more like his, and well this year I think we've hit the mark pretty close.
So I present to you an abbreviated sardonic guide for making cucidati with the help of my wee niece and nephew.
Make an inordinate amount of dough.
Start cutting some delicious figs.
Toast your nuts. Almond nuts that is, now get your mind out of the gutter...
Grind your nuts and sift 'em good, nothing can ruin biting into a cucidati like finding a chunk of nut... almond nut.
Now take those delicious figs and process them into unappetizing, worm like goo.
Lots and lots of unappetizing worm like goo will be needed.
Add processed raisins to pile of processed figs.
Get ready to combine ground nuts into unappetizing pile of goo.
It looks like the title of Greenday's 1994 album (Dookie for those not in the know), but I promise you that with some secret ingredients a-la my Great Grandma Runza's recipe that this will taste wonderful.
Now kick back and relax and reminisce about the Christmas when a squirrel got stuck in the chimney, ran out of the house and the tree fell over, while you have the wee ones do the dirty mixing work.
Soften the dough. Al Capone style.
Now roll it out.
And pretend that you're having a fantastic time making these cookies, because there are about 200 so or more to make.
Continue making these as the day grows dark, as will your soul.
And remember to enlist the wee ones in tasks such as moving cookies from baking sheet to cooling parchment zone and delivering cookies for quality control testing (aka my mouth) while you're wrist deep in flour and dough.
Let your ever mounting pile of cookies cool and get ready to make 'em purdy and such.
Now admire all the hours and hard work you've to make these cookies, because they sure as hell won't last long....
Not long at all.