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The Cuccidati and Sicily

November 5, 2014

figs for cuccidati cookies

Each month here on the Cookies con Amore blog we dedicate one of our cookies to a region of Italy. It’s an opportunity for you to learn a bit about the Italian culture that is baked into each of our cookies—whether they are gluten-free, sugar-free or classico.

Cuccidati and Sicily

The Cuccidati is a fig-filled cookie that hails from Sicily. The star of this butter cookie is the filling: figs, dates, raisins, orange peel and a bit of marsala wine. It’s a traditional Christmas cookie and as we enter the holiday season November is the perfect month to showcase this cookie that’s one of our favorites.

Each Sicilian town has its own take on this delicious cookie. It is known by different a variety of names: cucciddatu, vurciddatu, purciddatu or’ucciddatu and buccellati. It also comes in a variety of shapes: wreaths, logs and even animal shapes.

The ingredients change slightly from town to town. Cookies con Amore head chef Fernanda adds chocolate chips to our filling and tops the cookies with a dash of powdered sugar and sliced almonds. We bake both gluten-free and classico versions of the cuccidati.

cuccidati italian cookies

Sicily: garden of culinary delights

Virtually every Sicilian family has a fig tree in the backyard and winter evenings are spent by the fire enjoying seasonal dried fruits and nuts. This island off the southwest coast of Italy is the largest in the Mediterrenean and lies at the crossroads of Africa and Europe. Its temperate climate and fertile soil yield a cornucopia of culinary delights. Along the coast, you’ll find vineyards and groves of citrus and olive trees. Almond grow in the the south. Wheat grows in the interior.

Sicily has long attracted foreigners to its ports. At various times, it was governed by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, French and Spanish—each adding their own influence to the local cuisine, which today is among the most diverse in all of Italy.

palermo

Palermo Cooking Class

Palermo is fascinating city with many interesting palaces, museums and churches as well as excellent restaurants. The sommelier at our local wine bar recently returned from a sojourn in Palermo and gushed to us about a one day cooking class she took with The Duchess of Palma. The lesson begins with a visit to the market for ingredients for an entirely Sicilian menu to be enjoyed in the dining room of an 18th century palazzo which was the last home of Prince Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of the world-famous novel The Leopard.

What to Eat in Sicily

Arance (Oranges): Oranges are everywhere in Sicily. Whether candied or squeezed into fresh juice or incorporated into savory dishes, you can’t miss them. Look for insalata di arance, a simple orange salad served with shaved fennel, marinated tuna and a fresh sardine.

Arancini (Fried Rice Balls): Savory fried rice balls that are typically filled with meat sauce, green peas and sometimes cheese. Other fillings include spinach, mushrooms, eggplant or pistachios. They resemble small oranges, hence the name “arancini” and make a delightful snack.

Cannoli: We have Sicilians to thank for the invention of cannoli: tubes of crunchy, fried dough that filled with ricotta cheese.

Caponata: This very typical Sicilian ratatouille is a tangy, sweet and sour salad based on eggplant. It is seasoned with sweet balsamic vinegar, capers, tomatoes and sometimes pine nuts and raisins and served at room temperature.

Pasta alla Norma: This Eastern Sicilian comfort food is made with fried eggplant, tomatoes, basil, and ricotta salata. Best enjoyed in the summer when eggplant is in season.

Polpo bollito: Fish in Sicily is so fresh, it’s rarely served with sauces or even much seasoning. This is a classic example: It’s simply boiled octopus.

Marzipan: In Sicily, almond paste is molded into little fruits. They are both delicious and works of art.

Granita: This simple summer refreshment pairs ground ice with sugar and fresh fruit.

Cassata siciliana: A sponge cake is soaked in liqueur, its slices layered with sweetened ricotta, and the whole thing covered in almond paste, then icing. Oh, and studded with candied fruits and other goodies. This one’s for serious sweet tooths only!

sicily

Of course, you needn’t book a ticket to Italy to enjoy a taste of Sicily. Simply order a box of our Cuccidati (classico or gluten-free) and we’ll deliver some Sicilian dolce to your door.

If you have things you’d like to share about your visits and experiences in Sicily, please add them to the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Gluten-Free Cuccidati Fig Cookies

December 1, 2013

Our gluten-free Cuccidati are tender butter cookies filled with figs, dates, raisins and chocolate chips. We love Cuccidati cookies so much that we made this gluten-free version so that everyone can enjoy them.

These cookies hail from Sicily where virtually every family has a fig tree in the backyard and winter evenings are spent by the fire enjoying seasonal dried fruits and nuts.

Cuccidati Fig Cookies

Our Cuccidati are tender butter cookies filled with figs, dates, raisins and chocolate chips. We love these cookies so much that we also make a gluten-free version so that everyone can enjoy them.

These cookies hail from Sicily where virtually every family has a fig tree in the backyard and winter evenings are spent by the fire enjoying seasonal dried fruits and nuts.

Classico Special Edition Tin

November 20, 2015

To celebrate the holidays, we’re offering our special edition Gold Holiday Tin assorted with our festive christmas cookies; including our new biscotti drizzled with white chocolate and topped with peppermint pieces, christmas-shaped jelly-filled cookie, cuccidati, and wedding cookies!

Just for Christmas, you have the option to include a bag of Fernanda’s favorite espresso roasted fresh and to her taste (robust!). What goes better after Christmas dinner than an Italian cookie and a cup of Italian coffee?

We also bake a gluten-free cookie assortment for the holidays.

Note: we bake and ship our cookies to order. If you plan to enjoy your cookies on Christmas Day, please make a note in the comment field at checkout and we’ll deliver accordingly.

*Please choose a coffee option to enable “add to cart” button*

 

Italian Christmas Cookies: Buon Natale!

December 13, 2014

Holiday Banner

Christmas in Italy

In Italy, the focus of Christmas is on family and feasting. The recipes are traditional—everyone looks forward to enjoying the dishes that their families have made for generations. The real magic happens in the way everyone—Mama, Papa, aunts, children, siblings, cousins, etc.—joins together to share in the traditions.

Perhaps we’re biased, but we’ve always felt the most special part of Christmas dinner is when the cookies, Vin Santo and coffee come out. The work is all done, everyone is warm and full. What’s left but to do, but sit back, enjoy the sweetness and share stories?

Virtually every Italian town has its own traditional Christmas cookie. Many of the Cookies con Amore are actually Christmas cookies that can be enjoyed year round. Here are some of our favorite holiday classics and the stories behind them.

Traditional Italian Christmas Cookies

Cuccidati

cuccidati italian cookies

The Cuccidati is a fig-filled cookie that hails from Sicily. The star of this butter cookie is the filling: figs, dates, raisins and orange peel. It’s a traditional Christmas cookie.

Each Sicilian town has its own take on this delicious cookie. It is known by different a variety of names: cucciddatu, vurciddatu, purciddatu or’ucciddatu and buccellati. It also comes in a variety of shapes: wreaths, logs and even animal shapes.

The ingredients change slightly from town to town. Cookies con Amore head chef Fernanda adds sweet Marsala wine to her filling, making for a classically Sicilian cookie. We bake both gluten-free and classico versions of the Cuccidati.

Order a box of Cuccidati (regular or gluten-free). They are also included in our Gluten-free Christmas Cookie assortment and the Classico Italian Christmas Cookie assortment.

Ricciarelli

ricciarelli

The Ricciarelli is a traditional Tuscan cookie that is naturally gluten-free and combines orange with almond flavors. At Christmastime, you will find Ricciarelli in every bakery in Siena.

This cookie has an Arabic influence and dates back to the Crusades, when almonds were introduced to Italy by soldiers returning home. In the spirit of adaptation to local taste and flavors, Cookies con Amore head chef Fernanda has also created a chocolate version of the Ricciarelli made with cocoa powder, “because who doesn’t love chocolate?”

Order a box of Ricciarelli cookies. They are also included in our Gluten-free Christmas Cookie assortment.

Raspberry Linzer

cookies con amore raspberry linzer

One of our best loved gluten-free cookies is the Raspberry Linzer. It’s made with almond flour giving it a rich, nutty taste. We sandwich two cookies together with a tangy berry jam that complements the sweetness of the dough.

The Linzer is also known as the Occhi di Bue (eye of the bull) because the top cookie in the sandwich is traditionally made with a cutout circle in the center. The jelly that is revealed looks like a large eye. For the holiday assortments, we cut the Linzer in the shape of a Christmas tree.

Order a box of our naturally gluten-free Raspberry Linzer cookies. They are also included in our Gluten-free Christmas Cookie assortment and the Classico Italian Christmas Cookie assortment.

Checkerboard

checkerboard

This delicate and crunchy shortbread cookie combines chocolate with orange flavors in a festive checkerboard design. No eggs are used in this buttery, rich batter. Because this cookie is labor-intensive, traditionally it is made only for special occasions such as Christmas.

Order a box of Checkerboard cookies. They are also included in our Classico Italian Christmas Cookie assortment.

Ginger

ginger

Ginger is not a traditionally Italian flavor, but over our many years in the U.S., we developed a fondness for this traditional American Christmas cookie. When you bite into one of our Ginger Cookies you will find a soft, chewy texture. We combine molasses with ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and cloves to give these cookies a spicy flavor that will bring you back to Christmas morning. It’s included in our classico Christmas cookie assortment.

Order a box of Ginger cookies. They are also included in our Classico Italian Christmas Cookie assortment.

Pizzelle

pizzelle

Pizzelle are very traditional thin, crisp waffle cookies that can be enjoyed on their own or sandwiched together with cannoli cream, hazelnut-chocolate spread or other decadent fillings. The name for these cookies comes from the Italian word “pizze” for round and flat.

In the old days every wealthy family in Italy had its own Pizzelle iron which would press a waffle-like design featuring their family crest onto the cookies. We make our Pizzelle cookies the old fashioned way, entirely by hand with traditional irons.

Order a box of Pizzelle cookies for Christmas.

Crostoli

CCA-FB-Header-Vday

Crostoli, or little crusts, are rectangular paper-thin pastries fried in palm oil then dusted with confectioner’s sugar to form light, delicately crisp treats that are not overly sweet. In Italy, every town has its own special name for them: Crostoli (little crusts), Cenci (rags), Nastri (ribbons), Bugie (lies), and Chiacchere (the sounds of patter or gossip) to name a few.

This is one of our family’s trademark Christmas cookies. Long before we started Cookies con Amore, we would spend the entire holiday season baking batch after batch of crostoli for our friends and family. In some ways it’s what inspired us to start the company.

You can serve Crostoli with ice cream (hazelnut is particularly good), but our family tradition is to serve crostoli alongside a generous bowl of ricotta spread. This Italian take on chips and dip gives you bites of cannoli without the mess. Because the recipe is not too sweet, it can be served as either an appetizer or dessert. It’s easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time. Don’t expect to have any leftovers. Mangia!

Order a box of Crostoli.

Recipe: Crostoli con Ricotta

Ingredients

  • 2 packages of crostoli
  • 2 lbs. whole milk ricotta
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • mini chocolate chips (as much as desired)
  • zest of one whole orange
  • zest of one whole lemon

Whip ricotta, powdered sugar, vanilla and almond extract with an electric mixer until smooth and light. Fold in chocolate chips and the lemon and orange zest.

Refrigerate. Remove when ready to be served.

Classico Holiday Assortment

November 21, 2014

You can’t have Christmas without cookies! We’re baking an assortment of some of our favorite traditional Italian holiday cookies including the Checkerboard, Amaretti, Cuccidati (fig) and Brutti ma Buoni (chocolate).

Hand-baked and delivered to your door, this festive assortment is full of amore and dolce to share with your friends and family. It also makes a great hostess gift.

Just for Christmas, you have the option to include a bag of Fernanda’s favorite espresso roasted fresh and to her taste (robust!). What goes better after Christmas dinner than an Italian cookie and a cup of Italian coffee?

We also bake a gluten-free cookie assortment for the holidays.

Note: we bake and ship our cookies to order. If you plan to enjoy your cookies on Christmas Day, please make a note in the comment field at checkout and we’ll deliver accordingly.

*Please choose a coffee option to enable “add to cart” button*

Gluten-Free Holiday Assortment

You can’t have Christmas without cookies! We’re baking an assortment of some of our favorite gluten-free Italian cookies for the holidays including the Amaretti, Cuccidati (fig), Ricciarelli, Wedding and Raspberry Linzer.

Hand-baked and delivered to your door, this festive assortment is full of amore and dolce to share with your friends and family. It also makes a great hostess gift.

Just for Christmas, you have the option to include a bag of Fernanda’s favorite espresso roasted fresh and to her taste (robust!). What goes better after Christmas dinner than an Italian cookie and a cup of Italian coffee?

We also bake a traditional Italian cookie assortment for the holidays.

Note: we bake and ship our cookies to order. If you plan to enjoy your cookies on Christmas Day, please make a note in the comment field at checkout and we’ll deliver accordingly.

*Please choose a coffee option to enable “add to cart” button*

Five Gourmet Italian Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

April 30, 2014

Mother's Day Cookies

Like all true Italians, we cherish and celebrate Mama all year round. But over the years, we’ve given and received some great Mother’s Day gifts. Here are some of our favorites:

A box of cookies just for her

Of course we have to start our list here. Who doesn’t love a cookie? Mama cooks and bakes for everyone else. We’ve created two Mother’s Day cookie assortments (gluten-free and regular) that feature some of our most popular and favorites so that Mama can enjoy a box of cookies all her own. Wedding cookies, nonna, biscotti, baci di dame, jelly-filled linzers: they are all there.

Italian breakfast in bed

What a luxury it is to have your children deliver a good fashion (Vogue Italia) or travel magazine (AFAR), coffee and something sweet to you in bed. What kind of something sweet? We have some ideas!

The farfalletti is our version of a breakfast cookie. It’s like a miniature croissant with a dab of jam filling: apricot, strawberry or raspberry. There’s no sugar added and the foundation of the cookie is a simple butter and cream cheese dough.

For gluten-free Moms, we are partial to a good biscottinni that dunks well.

An Italian picnic

May can be such a delicious time of the year: perfect for a picnic by the seaside, in the country or at a park. Pick up some good Italian prosciutto or salumi, an assortment of cheese (we’re partial to sweet Gorgonzola and fresh Asiago right now) and some olives. If you eat wheat, Grissini (Italian breadsticks) are a must. Figs, cherries and strawberries are all in season and require no preparation other than rinsing.

Here are two gluten-free recipes to make in advance:

Don’t forget the sparkling water and wine (a lightly sparkling Prosecco or a Pino Grigio) and of course the cookies! Our wedding cookies now come in gluten-free as well as regular and are a perfect picnic treat.

Pack it all off with a picnic blanket, some wine glasses, a bottle opener, plates, cutting board, cotton napkins and a knife for the cheese and fruit.

Italian garden gifts

When we grew up in Italy, everyone had a fruit or nut tree in the back yard. It was from these trees that Nonna would gather the flavors for her cookies: lemon, fig and apricot. You taste these flavors in many of our cookies: lemon nonna (gluten-free and regular), fig cuccidatis (gluten-free and regular) and jelly-filled Linzers (gluten-free and regular).

A potted Meyer lemon tree is great for the patio and can be brought inside during winter if you don’t live in a temperate climate. Rosemary, thyme and lavender are classic Italian herbs and also do well in pots.

Olivella olive oil skin care

Olive Oil soap is a centuries-old skin care secret of Mediterranean women. It naturally replenishes lost moisture, nourishes the skin, and fights the effects of free radicals. Olivella makes luxurious skin care products that are made of 100% pure Italian virgin olive oil and produced right where the olives are grown, in “the green heart of Italy.” We love them!

Gluten-Free All Occasion Assortment

April 28, 2014

We’ve selected a special assortment of some of our baker’s favorite cookies including the Raspberry Linzer, Polentine, Reginette, Biscottini, Nonnine and Ricciarelli as well as a variety of our signature shortbread cookies for any occasion. Hand-baked and hand-cut, this assortment of cookies is full of amore and makes a perfect gift to share with your friends and family.

*Selection is subject to change with cookies baked fresh the day of your order*

Also available in regular.