Nonnina’s Sicilian Cuddureddi Biscuits
There is something about these biscuits that bring back the most wonderful memories time and time again.
This is a traditional Sicilian festive biscuit, so you would always find them on the table Christmas Day and any other social event leading up to it. My Nonnina was renowned for them, and to our family, they are known as Cuddureddi. But to others, they might be known as Buccellati or Cucciddati. Nonnina would fill these beautifully delicate shortbread pastry with either her homemade fig jam, or a homemade zucchini jam (which was so delicious!).
I have a version of this recipe from my Zia, and I’ve spent some time to recreate it in my own kitchen. The pastry I think is spot on, but the filling Nonnina used was different. Most commonly they are made with a combination of dried fig, nut and spice mix for the filling. And yes they do work wonderfully like this – but they don’t quite taste the same as my Nonnina’s.
There are so many variations to this biscuit, it amazes me how much it can differ between each little Sicilian town. If you have the time, and it’s the season for it, then please go ahead with a traditional fig jam. But for today, I made them with the alternate filling below.
Preparation Time - 1 hour, plus resting of the dough
Cooking Time - 20 minutes
Makes approximately 40 biscuits
For the pastry
- 500g plain flour
- 180g icing sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- A pinch of sea salt
- 200g chilled butter (Nonnina would use lard)
- 3 free range eggs, plus 1 egg yolk, beaten
For the filling
- 500g dried figs
- 150g raisins
- 120g blanched almonds
- 35g pine nuts
- 35g pistachios
- 125g honey
- 200g marmalade
- 1 large orange, zest only
- A pinch of ground cinnamon
Start this recipe with the pastry. Place the flour, icing sugar, baking powder and sea salt into a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes, dropping them into the bowl also. Rub together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the eggs, mixing until it all starts to combine. Using your hands, work the ingredients until it starts to form a dough. If it is too sticky, add some extra flour. Or water, if you feel the dough is too dry. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour.
In the meantime, place the dried figs into a bowl of hot water and set aside for 10 minutes to soften.
Drain and let cool slightly. Remove the stems and roughly chop. Place into a food processor along with the nuts and raisins, and pulse until a thick chunky paste is formed. Add to a clean seperate bowl, along with the remainder of the filling ingredients. Combine and leave to chill in the fridge.
To assemble the biscuits
Working in batches so the pastry won't warm too much, cut a small amount of the dough and place the rest back in the fridge, wrapping in clingfilm. On a clean surface dusted with flour, roll out the dough until it is approximately 2-3mm thick. Using a cookie cutter, start cutting out shapes in the dough, you will need to work quickly. Spoon small amounts of filling into the centre, and place another cut piece of dough to form a ‘lid’. Press down gently enough to secure the dough, but not lose the delicate shape from the cookie cutter. Repeat this process until all the pastry and filling have been used.
Transfer the finished cookies onto baking trays lined with baking paper. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes in a preheated oven set to 180C fan-forced. Let cool, then dust with icing sugar to serve.
Note: If you have left over dough, simply roll into small balls and place onto a baking tray, pressing down gently with your finger tip. It helps if both the pastry and the mixture and cool when making these biscuits.