Ingredients for filling
3/4 Cup silvered almonds
3/4 Cup coarsely chopped almonds
8 Oz. black mission figs (Jewel has them)
3/4 Cup golden raisins
3/4 cup honey
1/4 Cup brandy or rum flavoring
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast them in the middle of a pre-heated 350 degree oven until they are lightly golden and aromatic, 5 - 10 minutes. Set aside & cool.
Plump the raisins in some hot water for about 10 minutes at the same time, then drain well.
Cut off the hard stems from the ends of the figs and discard. Coarsely chop the figs. Pulse the figs in a food processor until finely chopped. In a bowl combine them with the remaining filling ingredients, including the cooled nuts.
Refrigerate 8 hours or up to a week - allowing the brandy & all the flavors to intermingle.
Pastry dough for Cuccidati
4 Cups all purpose flour
1 Cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter cut up
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs lightly beaten
1/2 Cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Whisk flour, sugar and baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and add to the dry ingredients. Blend with your fingertips or pastry blender just until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea size butter lumps remaining.
Add the eggs, vanilla, milk & zest and stir with a fork until soft dough forms. Halve the dough & gather each half into a ball.
Between two pieces of plastic wrap, flatten each half into a rough 6 x 4 inch rectangle and refrigerate at least 8 hour or up to 3 days.
To make cookies; working with one half of the dough at a time, roll out the dough into a 15 x 4 inch rectangle on a well floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Trim to a 13 x 10 inch rectangle on a well floured surface.
Refrigerate the trimmings.
Cut the dough crosswise into four 10 x 3 1/4 inch strips. (Measurements don't have to be exact). Put 1/2 Cup filling in a 1 inch wide log lengthwise down the middle. Fold the sides of the strip up and over the filling to enclose it and pinch edges to seal. Turn the strips sean-side down and press gently to flatten. With a floured knife, cut the strips into logs, creating 1 ½ inch slices. Arrange them ½ inch apart on large baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees with rack set in middle of oven until golden around the edges, about 16 - 20 minutes. Make more cookies with the additional dough and scraps. As the batches are finished, transfer to racks & cool until warm - about ten minutes.
Brush the cookies with an icing made of 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract, and enough orange juice to thin mixture to 1 1/2 or 2 tablespoons. Sprinkle with multi colored candies!
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