Figs and Nuts Cookies
Biscotti con Frutta Secca
In the pre-Christian era,
the Romans offered to their gods the “nux gatum” which means nut cake made with
honey, flour, almonds, pistachio or other kind of nuts.
In Sicily, during
the Christmas season, the nux
gatum are made with the same ingredients however dry fruits and
the skin of citrus fruits are added and they are called nucatolu.
The word nougat, (torrone)
also derives from nux
gatum, the nut cake, the Occitan called pan nugat.
Occitan are people
speaking a Latin dialect; they occupy parts of the southern part of Europe, and particularly the area
of Catalonia in Spain, parts of La Provence in France, and in Italy in the area now known as Piedmont, and Liguria and the town
of Guardia Piemontese, in Calabria nd in Sicily in the town of San
This Christmas cookie,
the nucatoli is prepared in the province of
Ragusa and the Southern- Eastern part of the Island; Modica claims conceiving this enjoyable, delicious sweet
cookie, however it is made with variances in other parts of Sicily.
In Vittoria the
nucatoli are available all year around in bakeries and they are called “Mucatuli”
- 2 ½ cups of
- 1 stick of sweet butter (4 oz.)
melted but not hot
- 1 medium
- 1 yolk
- 3 tablespoons of
- pinch of
- cold water if
- skin of 2 oranges
- skin of 1
- 1 tablespoon of
- ½ lb. of dry figs stemmed and
- ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- ½ lb. of lightly toasted almonds
or pistachios, finely diced
- ½ cup of
Prepare the orange and lemon peels for the filling: rinse with cold water, dry and bake at 375 degrees for 15
minutes. When cooled, cut them with scissors into thin strips and finely dice.
In a medium
size, pot without a cover, at a medium heat place the diced orange and lemon peels, one tablespoon of water and one
tablespoon of sugar; bring to a boil and mix into the figs, almonds (or pistachios), cinnamon and fold the honey
Simmer at a
very low heat, stirring continuously. Do not cover!
ready when it comes off from the side and it forms into a mass; about 5 minutes.
If mixture is too thick,add extra honey, a little at a
time, until the right consistency is obtained; in fact mixture should be thickenough to make it possible to
shape it into the size of a small breadsticks, to fill the nucatoli.
into a bowl to cool, and use at room temperature or cover tightly with plastic
wrap and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days; when ready to use bring the filling at room
Lightly whisk egg and yolk.
Combine the flour with the
butter, salt and the eggs. Add the honey, mix
thoroughly and bring the dough together to form a ball. If the dough is to dry, add a few drops of water to
Fold and press with the palm of your hands; if dough is sticky, add some more flour.
Do not over mix.
When dough forms into a single mass, cover with a kitchen rag or plastic wrap, set
aside, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
cookie sheets by lightly greasing and pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
dough from refrigerator, dust working surface with a little flour and place the dough in the center; fold and press
with the palm of your hands a few times and with the help of a rolling pin, flatten the pastry dough to about less
than 1/8 of an inch thick. Use a scalloped edge pastry wheel and cut dough into 2 ½” X 6” rectangles.
and place lengthwise some filling in the center of each strip, 1 tablespoon or more, shaped like a breadstick,
leaving clear at least ¾” on each side.
Fold the 6”
sides to enclose only the sides of the filling and leave open the top showing the dry fruits and honey mixture, the
into cookie sheets or
greased pans 2 inches apart and shape the nucatuli into an
Bake until lightly golden, at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Transfer to a cooling rack and store in airtight containers.
Serve at room temperature.
In Bronte, the"NACATULI
BRUNTISI" are prepared with pistachios.