Like most people, I adore mince pies but I like to add this Sicilian version to my Christmas baking. You may find recipes for Cuccidati that require cooking the filling with added sugar. I But this is not necessary and I whizz the ingredients of the filling in a food processor with no added sugar to produce some amazing flavours and textures.
You will need:
For the pastry
115 g butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon tangerine zest
2 tablespoons milk
Sieve the flour into a large bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, zest. Mix. Add the eggs and start to bind the pastry. Add the milk. A spoon at a time until you have the right consistency. Add more if necessary as the temperature and humidity levels of where you live make a difference to how much liquid the pastry needs.
For the filling
150g dried figs
1 tablespoon honey
Zest of a tangerine
120g almonds, I used blanched and untoasted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
35g grated dark chocolate
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons juice of a tangerine
1 tablespoon oats
Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Use a handheld blender to whiz into a paste. place in the fridge for an hour.
Divide the pastry into two pieces. Roll out it out into a long strip on a floured surface. Place the filling in a long strip in the center.
Roll it and seal it with a brush and some water. Cut the log into the size of your choice. I made mini rolls here but you can make longer ones and shape them into a crescent which is another traditional shape.
Place the cookies on an oven tray lined with baking paper.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 20 minutes.
If you do not intend to ice the surface, remember to brush them with egg wash before baking.
1 cup icing sugar
3 tablespoons milk
Few drops clear vanilla extract
Mix the icing sugar with the milk and vanilla extract until you get a smooth paste. Drizzle over the top of the cooled down pastries. Immediately top with some sprinkles or dip them for a more intense color [optional].