Cuccidati

Makes 120-144 cookies. Recipe is from David Roe, New Orleans, who said, “My mother laughed when I asked about recipes. Millie and Maggie (his grandmother and aunt who taught him how to make the Italian fig cookies) did most everything by feel. This is my current recipe.”

For filling:

4 cups figs

4 cups dates

2 cups raisins

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup currants

1 cup orange marmalade or candied fruit

2 cups pecans

1 cup honey

4 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspooon ginger

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup rum

Simple dough:

2 cups sugar

4 cups vegetable shortening

16 cups baker’s flour

6 tablespoons baking powder

1 tablespoon salt

4 large eggs

2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons pure almond extract

2 cups milk

For icing:

8 cups confectioners’ sugar

4 tablespoons or more milk (orange juice works, too)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Colored sprinkles

1. Make the filling: Run the figs, dates, raisins, currants, marmalade or candied fruit, and pecans through a meat grinder or food processor separately and then again after mixing together all of the filling ingredients. Let the mixture sit for a day or two.

2. Make the dough: Cream the sugar and shortening. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whip the eggs, add the extracts and milk, and then mix all the dough ingredients together.

3. Refrigerate dough for an hour (or more). Roll out dough to 1?8-inch thickness and cut into 2-inch-by-3-inch rectangles. Place a dollop of filling in center of each rectangle and fold diagonally. Pinch dough closed Bake at 375 F for 12-15 minutes.

4. While cookies are in oven, make the icing by mixing confectioners’ sugar, milk or orange juice, and vanilla extract. Ice cookies while they are still hot. Finish with colored sprinkles.