On a regular basis our family receives homemade Lebanese food made by our lovely friend Alham. She spoils us rotten with containers of homemade cabbage rolls, kibbeh, pasta, cakes and biscuits. It was only the other day that mum brought home her delicious date cookies that we thoroughly enjoy with a cup of tea. In no time we had demolished the lot. Since it was the day before dad’s birthday I decided to surprise him with a batch of Cucidati Italian biscuits. Our family all agrees that it is always nice to have something homemade lying around the house to snack on! I felt inspired by Italian week on Masterchef so I chose to make these traditional Christmas treats that were perfecto! I left them to cool on the kitchen bench with a cheeky note addressed to dad. He was over the moon (both in age and excitement) when he snooped around for something to eat for morning tea!
Happy Birthday Paddy the pirate!
Recipe adapted from Gourmet magazine
Makes approximately 40 biscuits
Note: The ingredients for these biscuits must be prepared and chilled for at least 8 hours or preferably overnight before being assembled.
- ¾ cup soft dried figs, finely chopped
- ½ cup pitted dates, finely chopped
- ½ cup sultanas
- ¾ cup honey
- ¼ brandy
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh orange/mandarin zest
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ¾ cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped and toasted
- ¾ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
- In a large bowl combine all ingredients and stir until well combined.
- Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 8 hours. (Preserves for up to 1 week in the fridge)
- 4 cups all-purpose plain flour
- 1 cup castor sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup full cream milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
- Using a food processor add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until well combined.
- In intervals slowly add butter until the mixture starts to form lumps.
- Add the eggs, milk, vanilla and zest. Pulse mixture until soft dough forms and starts to clump on one side of the food processor- (do not over beat the mixture).
- Lightly flour a clean surface and half the mixture, gathering each half into a ball.
- Using a rolling pin roll each half into a rough rectangle (about 6 X 4). Cling wrap and chill in the fridge until firm, at least 8 hours.
- Preheat oven to 180 °C fan forced. Line a large tray with baking paper.
- Flour a clean surface. Using a rolling pin roll out 1 half of dough to resemble a long rectangle (about 1/8- inch thick).
- Cut dough vertically in half and trim around each rectangle to form two neat long rows (1-inch wide). Note: Keep remaining dough and chill in fridge.
- Using a teaspoon place mixture down the centre of one strip (a bit less than 1/8 of all filling) and place other strip on top, pinching edges together to seal.
- Turn log over and pinch any gaps together. Using a knife cut square size slices and place apart on prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden.
- Repeat process using other half of dough. Use remaining excess trimmings until there is no more dough or mixture left.
- Transfer biscuits onto a wired wrack and allow to cool.
- Using a sieve sprinkle one tablespoon of icing sugar evenly on the top of biscuits for decoration. Enjoy with a nice cup of tea or coffee!