Nucatoli

Figs and Nuts Cookies

Biscotti con Frutta Secca 

 

 Dry FigsAlmonds

 

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 Fratello. 

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

        

 

INGREDIENTS 

 

The Crust   

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups of flour  
  • 1 stick of sweet butter (4 oz.) melted but not hot  
  • 1 medium egg  
  • 1 yolk  
  • 3 tablespoons of honey  
  • pinch of salt  
  • cold water if needed  

 

The Filling   

 

Ingredients:

  • skin of 2 oranges   
  • skin of 1 lemon  
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar  
  • ½ lb. of dry figs stemmed and finely diced  
  • ½  teaspoon of ground cinnamon  
  • ½ lb. of lightly toasted almonds or pistachios, finely diced  
  • ½ cup of honey  

 

PREPARATION 

 

The Filling 
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 into it. 

Simmer at a very low heat, stirring continuously. Do not cover!  

Filling is 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. 

Transfer 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 temperature. 

 

The Dough

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 moisten.
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.

 

 Nicatuli

 

 

 

The Nucatuli

Prepare some cookie sheets by lightly greasing and pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. 

Retrieve 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.  

Spoon out 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 nucatuli. 

Place into cookie sheets or greased pans 2 inches apart and shape the nucatuli into an “S” form. 

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.