These buccellati are traditional Sicilian fig cookies made gluten-free for the holidays.
Buccellati are much loved traditional Italian cookies served at Christmas and New Year's. With one taste you'll know exactly why. These delightful cookies are filled with a sweet fig, date, and almond filling flavoured with Grand Marnier.
Thy do take a bit of time to come together, so ensure you have time throughout the day to prepare each part. The dough, once prepared, must be refrigerated for several hours and the filling also takes time to cool.
I have altered the traditional recipe for these cookies to make them gluten-free and reduce the amount of sugar. Still, they are treats which small size and delicious flavour can easily have anyone over indulging before they realize.
(Makes 40 servings)
1/2 cup plant-based butter, softened
1/4 cup monk fruit sweetener (or granulated sugar)
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1, 1/2 cups cassava flour (or all-purpose flour) + more for dusting
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 cup dried figs, chopped and stems removed
1/2 cup medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup candied peel, chopped
2 tablespoons monkfruit sweetener (or granulated sugar)
1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup unroasted almonds, chopped
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
The dough for this recipe must be made several hours ahead of time so plan accordingly.
In a large mixing bowl, add the butter. With an electric hand mixer on medium-high speed, beat until the butter becomes smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Begin incorporating the sweetener, brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix well then add the egg and pure vanilla extract. Again, scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all the ingredients are mixed well.
Lower the speed of the hand mixer to low and begin slowly adding in the cassava flour and tapioca flour in several additions. When done, the dough should be quite pliable, but not sticky. Divide the dough in half and place each half on a large sheet of clingwrap. Press the dough out with your hands until it forms a rough rectangle about 1-inch thick. wrap bother separately and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 3 to 4 hours.
An hour or two before assembling and baking the cookies, start preparing the filling. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the figs, dates, orange juice, candied peel, sweetener, lemon zest, lemon juice, and ground cinnamon. Mix well as the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring regularly until the mixture thickens (about 8 to 10 minutes). Remove from the heat an add in the almonds and Grand Marnier. Set aside and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
Once the filling is cool, take the dough out of the refrigerator to give it a few minutes to soften up. While you wait, preheat the oven to 375°F / 190°C and prepare two sheet pans lined with parchment paper or silicone liner. Set aside.
On a flat worksurface, place a sheet of parchment paper lightly dusted with flour. Roll out one of the rectangular pieces of dough until it is 10-inches x 8-inches in size, then cut the dough in half lengthwise leaving two strips of dough 10-inches x 4-inches each.
Take a strip of aluminium foil about the same size as the strips of dough (10 x 4) and lightly rub one side with avocado oil. Place 1/4 of the filling down the entre of the oiled side of he foil and use the foil to even it out into a log the length of the foil. Unwrap and transfer the filling to the centre of one of the strips of dough. The oil should help keep the filling from sticking to the foil. Bring the sides of the dough up over the log of filling and overlap. Use the parchment paper to roll up the dough if needed. Roll the log so that the seem is on the bottom.
At this point a choice of how to cut the cookies can be made. I cut the raw dough log into 1-inch pieces to form small pillows which will usually pop open while baking to reveal their sweet centres. Another method is to cut the cookies after they have baked for a cleaner look. They can also be cut longer and formed into crescent shapes with slits along the long side of the crescent to show the yummy filling. Whichever method is chosen, place the dough log or cut cookies onto the sheet pan, seem side down.