In my family, like many, the holidays always meant large batches of cookies. We would get ones from my grandparents and other relatives as well as send our own. I was super excited a few years back when my Aunt Rose told me that she had veganized all of my Grandmother’s cookie recipes!
My Aunt Rose is the only other vegan relative I have besides her daughter. She has always been inspiring to me and been someone who I feel really gets me, or at least tries to! When ever I visit her awesome So-Cal home she has a batch of vegan cucidatis in the freezer.
Cucidatis are essentially like fig newtons, but better. They are more grown up, sophisticated. Their taste has more bitter notes from the orange zest, and almost a wine quality from the figs. The cookie is subtle, not to sweet, a little dry to offset the gooey filling. In my family they are often garnished with rainbow sprinkles, giving ode to the creole of these native Sicilian cookies with the fusion of American confectionary.
Cucidatis are a celebration of two foods found abundantly in Sicily, oranges and figs. Folks lucky enough to live in regions where these foods grace the trees more than just a short season can harvest them, and make cucidatis a regular snack in their freezer.
I am not much of a baker so when it came time to adapt these cookies to my needs I went mostly raw and no bake. Feel free to use your own cookie base recipe as the wrapper for your filling if you don’t want a nut based cookie! The filling also goes great with apple or pear slices!
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup quick/instant oats (use gluten free if desired)
1 heaping TB date paste (click for recipe!) or 1 TB agave (will be sweeter with agave)
1 teas. cinnamon
In a high speed blender, such as a Vitamix or Blendtec, or in a food processor, add the walnuts and oats. Pulse till both are roughly ground, and beginning to bind together. Remove from blender and add to a bowl. Add cinnamon, mix well. Add date paste and knead till dough forms.
Take dough and press onto a piece of parchment paper. Form a rectangle that is only the width of twice the size you want the cookies to be. The length doesn’t matter. The dough should be about 1/4 inch thick, or a little less. Press till level and all sides are even or use a rolling pin.
1 cup dried figs, any variety, soaked for 4 hours in water to cover, drained
1 TB orange zest, loosely packed (yes you read that right, use less if you want but it is suppose to be heavy on the zest)
1/3 cup orange juice
1/2 teas. vanilla extract or powder
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
Add all ingredients to a high speed blender or food processor. Pulse blend until relatively smooth but still a bit of texture, about the consistency of pesto or preserves.
Spread the fig filling on the cookie dough, only covering half of the rectangle going lengthwise. Spread the filling all the way to the edges of the half you are covering. Fold the blank half, over the half with the fig filling.
Chill the entire, giant, cookie sandwich for about 2-3 hours. Cut cookies into desired shapes and sizes and serve. It is somewhat easier to cut with a serrated knife, but most important is a sharp knife. If you find that the cookies are sticking to your knife, it sometimes helps to run hot water on the blade in between slices.