Step aside, fig newtons – there’s a new fig cookie in town! These delectable little bites are one of the most special Christmas cookies ever. Ohhh yes – they really are that good! Boasting a crumbly dough encasing a sweet figgy filling as well as beautiful frosting on top, what more could anyone want from a cookie? The combination of flavours and textures in these fig Christmas cookies makes them a wonderful choice to include in your Christmas baking or holiday baking schedule this year.
You’ll see there are more ingredients in this fig cookies recipe than some of our other holiday baking ideas. If you don’t mind a little extra time in the kitchen though, these are extra-special and well worth the effort! The dough needs a 3-hour chilling time so you might prefer to begin this recipe the day before, then finish it the following day.
An Italian Christmas Tradition
Known as cucidati in Italian, these little treats offer citrus flavours and a spiced filling inside a sugar cookie dough. Other names for them include Sicilian fig cookies and fig Christmas cookies. The word ‘cucidaci’ means little bracelets, and refers to the shape of the dough before you cut it into individual cookies.
The filling typically has dark spiced rum or Grand Marnier or a similar liqueur. Some bakers prefer to use a splash of their favourite whisky. However, if you don’t want to use alcohol, you can omit this ingredient. Just add another two tablespoons of orange juice to make up for it.
The fig Christmas cookies are baked in strips then sliced into individual pieces. After they are completely cool, they are drizzled with a citrus glaze and pretty sprinkles. These Christmas cookies freeze well and they are also sturdy enough to travel, if you are bringing sweet treats to a Christmas party.
However, don’t pack them into tins until the frosting is completely hardened between wax paper layers! That’s important! Else the frosting will get messed up! In fact, many people don’t frost these until just before serving. So if you are serving these Christmas cookies at home, you might want to do it that way.
Figs: The Star of the Show
Figs are not a fruit. Really, they aren’t! They’re actually an inverted flower which blooms inside the pod. They are naturally sweet and can be used in various recipes, both sweet and savoury. Figs might not be ‘juicy’ exactly, but they really are luscious. Originally cultivated in Asia, figs are now grown around the world. And perfect for holiday baking recipes!
They come in green, white, black and red varieties. They can be shaped like squat pears or oval. Figs have a thin skin enclosing hundreds of little seeds (which are actually fruit themselves) as well as the sweet flesh. Fresh figs are quite delicate and don’t keep so long, while the dried version is available year-round. And perfect to incorporate in Christmas baking!
These parchment paper sheets are perfect for baking Christmas cookies! No sticking and (hopefully) no burning, plus easy clean up.
Which Type of Figs to Choose
For this Christmas cookies recipe, choose Calimyrna or Mission figs for the best result. Calimyrna figs are nutty and delicate, and a golden color when dried. Originally grown in Turkey, this fig was called the Smyrna fig after the Turkish city. Later on, Californian fig growers changed the name to Calimyrna and it seems to have stuck!
Recipe for Fig Christmas Cookies
Fig Christmas Cookies
- 1 Cup figs
- 1/2 Cup dates
- 1/2 Cup orange juice fresh squeezed
- 1/3 Cup candied orange peel
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tsp lemon zest
- 1/4 Tsp cinnamon
- 1/3 Cup almonds blanched and chopped fine
- 2 Tbsp dark rum i.e. Grand Marnier
- 1 Cup powdered sugar
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- Place the butter to a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
- Add the sugar, brown sugar and baking soda. Mix again until it is all combined.
- Add the egg and vanilla to the mixture and combine, scraping sides if needed.
- On slow speed, slowly add the flour in three to four additions.
- Divide the dough in half and form each half into a rectangle. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
- In a saucepan, combine the figs, dates, orange juice, candied orange peel, sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes until the mixture is thick.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the almonds and the rum. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap once cooled if not making cookies right away.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets and set aside.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit for about 15 minutes to soften.
- Place a piece parchment paper on your work surface and then lightly dust it with flour.
- Roll one piece of the dough to 10×8 inches. Cut each rectangle into two 10×4 inch strips. Put 1/4 of the filling down the center of each strip. Use the parchment paper to bring one long side of the dough up and over the filling. Repeat with the opposite side forming a log that encloses the filling. The dough should overlap slightly on top of the filling. Gently seal the edges using a bit of water if needed.
- Transfer the filled fig logs to the prepared baking sheet placing them seam side down Bake for 12 minutes or until light brown.
- Remove from the oven. Slice each log into 1 inch pieces. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.
- Combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth.
- Drizzle on each cookie. Top with sprinkles if desired.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.
As for Mission figs, these are a darker color. Their name comes from the Franciscan missionaries who would plant them in California in the late 1700s. Either of these varieties would be perfect for these fig cookies.
Finish with Festive Sprinkles
These fig Christmas cookies aren’t always decorated with sprinkles. Sometimes they just have the frosting. However, they do look more festive with sprinkles added! Don’t you agree?
Choose from red and green, for a typical Christmas theme, or any colors you want. As you can see, there is a lot going on with these cookies, from the juicy filling to the crust and frosting. So why not add those sprinkles too? There is no such thing as going overboard with Christmas cookies! And that’s part of the fun of holiday baking! You might want to let the kiddos ‘help’ adding the sprinkles!
These fig cookies are pretty enough to make a gorgeous centerpiece on your holiday table. And the kitchen will smell heavenly for a few hours after this type of Christmas baking! These are pretty rich, so a serving size probably ought to be just the one. They are rather more-ish though, and nobody is counting if you have two or even three!
Let me know if you try to make these fig Christmas cookies this season. They are a great addition to your holiday baking.