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This is a gluten and dairy free version of a classic Italian Fig Cookie (Cucidati) recipe.
Family History through recipes
I love old family recipes that have been passed down through the years. While holding the ingredient-stained index cards, I can see family history come to life. Many of the cards are typewritten on an actual old metal typewriter. Can you imagine? Moreover, some reference ingredients like “oleo,” just a another word for margarine.
The original name for margarine is oleomargarine. It was called just oleo, which is what I see in many of the old recipes. Apparently at some point, oleo changed to just being called margarine. The popularity of margarine grew during war time because of the shortage of butter, but I digress.
Making classic fig cookies gluten & dairy free
Back to Italian Fig cookies. So, my husband’s family makes these cookies each year. Moreover, the recipe came long before gluten and dairy free was necessary to the degree it is today. When we first started a gluten and dairy free lifestyle, I mistakenly thought we’d have to give up Christmas cookie baking.
I’ve since adapted the family recipe to make it both gluten and dairy free without sacrificing any of the taste. Using a good gluten-free all purpose flour will make or break a recipe. Additionally, I top them with dye-free homemade sprinkles.
Believe it or not, making your own fig filling isn’t hard when you have a food processor. I make ours every year. The mix is quite sticky, so doing it by hand is cumbersome – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Nearly all of the ingredients can be found at Aldi too!
You’ll notice the many of the cookie ingredients are similar to traditional cut out cookies. Baking powder is what makes this recipe different, and what gives these Italian fig cookies that puffy look.
If you’re wanting a deliciously sweet and traditional cookie, this is a must on your holiday baking list.
Italian Fig Cookies (Cucidati) Gluten & Dairy Free
Fig Filling (Use certified GF ingredients)
- 2 cups dried figs hard tips discarded
- 1½ cups dried dates pitted
- 1 cup raisins
- ¾ cup whole almonds toasted & chopped
- ¾ cup walnuts toasted & chopped
- ½ cup orange marmalade
- ½ cup honey
- ¼ cup brandy
- 1 tsp orange zest finely grated
- 1 tsp lemon zest finely grated
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
Cookie Dough (Use certified GF ingredients)
- 6 Tbsp non dairy baking stick like Earth Balance or shortening
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1¾ cup all purpose gluten-free flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup non-flavored, dairy-free milk substitute
- 1 large egg white beaten with 1 Tbsp water for egg wash
Icing (use certified GF ingredients)
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- 4 Tbsp non-flavored, dairy-free milk substitute
- In a food processor, combine the figs, dates and raisins to
- Place mixture into a medium bowl. Add the rest of filling ingredients and stir to combine
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight
- In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cream the baking stick and sugar
- Add baking stick and blend with fingers (or a pastry blender) until mix resembles a course meal
- In another bowl, beat the egg, non-dairy milk, and vanilla together
- Add the dry mixture to the wet and stir to make a rough dough
- Turn dough out onto a (GF) floured surface and knead until smooth (about 5 min.)
- Form dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap
- Place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper
- Working with one portion of the dough at a time,
remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to warm up slightly. GF dough can get sticky quickly, so keep the remaining dough cold
- Place the dough on a GF floured work surface and dust the dough with GF flour
- Using a knife or a rolling pizza cutter, trim the uneven edges from one side of the dough, and then cut the dough into long strips 2 ½-inches wide
- Put filling into a zipper plastic bag and cut the bottom corner (to make a pastry bag). Pipe a long rope of filling down the center of each strip of dough. The filling should be about ½ inch wide
- Working with one strip of dough at a time, bring both of the long edges up and over the filling to meet in the center, and press the edges together to close. Turn the filled ropes over so that the seam is on the bottom, and press gently to compact the rope into a long thin cylinder
- Cut the ropes into lengths about 1 ½ inches long, and place onto the parchment lined baking sheets, leaving about 1/2-inch between cookies. Repeat until you have used all of the dough and all of the filling
- Brush egg white onto each cookie before baking
- Bake the cookies until light golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to wire cooling racks
- Once the cookies are cooled, place confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl
- Add non-dairy milk, 1 Tbsp, at a time to form a smooth but thick icing
- One by one, dip the top of each cookie into the icing, letting any excess run off, then turn the cookie right side up onto a wire rack and decorate with sprinkles
- Allow the icing to dry completely before storing the cookies in airtight container
If you use this recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. You can download this as part of a collection of gluten and dairy free holiday recipes HERE.
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