Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"12 Days of Christmas" Day 2, "Sicilian Fig Cookies"

                         "Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling” by Edna Ferber

This is Day 2 of “The 12 Days of Christmas,” and “Sicilian Fig Cookies” is the recipe I am sharing with you today. We are celebrating figs and walnuts. The fig is very under-rated here in America. Dried figs are a healthy snack. They are low in fats and cholesterol and high in dietary fiber and minerals. They are low in sodium and have good amounts of potassium. This helps to maintain the blood pressure and reduces water retention. Potassium is also important for active muscles and nerves.

Walnuts have high content of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that help reduce the risk of heart disease and also certain types of cancer. Walnuts contain the amino acid, which helps lower the blood cholesterol by lowering the LDL cholesterol. Eating walnuts regularly reduce the risk or delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

There are endless ways to use this sweet and healthy fruit, but one of the best ways is in cookies. Dried figs are mixed with raisins, dates, and walnuts to create a filling for one of the best tasting cookies I have ever had. These cookies are fun to create and very colorful, in true Sicilian fashion. To me baking these cookies mean “Buon Natale” or “Merry Christmas” even if you are not Italian. Hope you enjoy!

Sicilian Fig Cookies
Mary Ann Esposito “Ciao Italia”

Yield: 4 Dozen

Dough Ingredients:

4 cups Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk

2 cups dried figs, soaked in water
2 cups dried dates, pitted (About 14 dates)
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup orange marmalade
2/3 cup walnuts or almonds, coarsely chopped
1 large egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
Colored sprinkles


Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a large bowl. Add the sugar and stir well. Cut in the shortening with a fork and work the mixture until it looks like corn meal. In a bowl, beat the egg, vanilla, and milk together. Add to the flour mixture and work the mixture with your hands into a rough dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth. The dough will be soft. Cut the dough into 4 pieces, wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and chill for 45 minutes.

To make the filling, grind the figs, dates, and raisins in a meat grinder or in a food processor until coarse; or coarsely chop. Place the mixture in a bowl, add the honey, cinnamon, marmalade, and nuts and mix well. The mixture will be thick. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.

Photo Courtesy of Dani Messina
Divide the dough into quarters and work with 1 piece of dough at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered. On a floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to a 12-inch square. Cut the dough into 4-X-3-inch rectangles, and spoon 2 tablespoons of the filling mixture down the center of each rectangle. Carefully fold over the long edges of each rectangle to meet in the center, then pinch the seam to close it securely, and turn the cookie seam side down. Pinch the ends closed and fold the ends under. Shape the cookies into crescents and place seam side down on the cookie sheets. Make 2 or 3 diagonal slits in the top of each crescent with scissors. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with colored sprinkles.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Note: I wrap the crescents individually in plastic wrap, twist the ends, and tie them with ribbons. They make wonderful Christmas presents. They can be made ahead and frozen.

Note: You may eliminate the egg wash and make a confectioners' sugar glaze; when the cookies are still warm, drizzle the glaze over them and sprinkle with the colored sprinkles.

Till Next Time……

Copyright © 2011 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved


  1. Ok, so my dad used to make me his version of the fig cookies when I was small, and my aunt gave me her recipe for the knot cookies 1,000 years ago. You've brought back so many memories and thank you for the knot cookies as I want to make them for a Xmas party this weekend and could not find the recipe.

  2. Thank you for reading and enjoying my blog. I am so glad that it brought back memories for you. Enjoy and have fun baking the Knot Cookies. Family, Food, and Love, is what it is all about! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays this year!