Every Christmas for the past few years, I've made my second favorite Italian cookie (after the iconic rainbow cookie): cucidati. They're like Fig Newtons with a spicy, addictive Italian accent, and when I bake them, I can easily polish off a batch by myself. Essentially, cucidati have a filling made with figs, raisins, citrus zest, nuts, spices and liqueur (I use brandy), which is then wrapped in a slightly sweet vanilla-butter dough. They last for weeks in a cookie tin; in fact, in the best Christmas cookie fashion, they get better with age. It's a travesty that I won't be making them this year - while I adore them, my family prefers biscotti and rainbow cookies - but our days certainly aren't over, as there's always next year...or any time, really.
Perhaps it's my longing for the figgy treats this Christmas that drew me to day 8 of Julia at Melanger's 12-day macaron challenge; it's all about the cucidati macarons. She created the ideal affair: a polished, fashionable, French cookie paired with a spicy, sultry, iconic Sicilian filling - it's fare to remember, that's for sure. Macarons are the perfect canvas for experimentation, and this version is the embodiment of two pastry cultures, meeting under the holiday mistletoe.