Remember Tina, the winner of The Great American Baking Show, season 4? She is still baking up a storm, doing TV cooking demos, sharing recipes on her blog, and interacting with her fans online. She is not only a superb baker, but a wonderful person! One of the great things about that “tent adventure” is that I got to interact with several of the previous contestants, both in the American and the British show. I think once you go through that experience, a surprising bonding takes place. But I digress. Today I share one of Tina’s many Italian recipes from the holiday season: Cuccidati. They are delicious bar cookies, but can you believe that she forgot to add one important step in the recipe? Do not try the filling before using. You may not have enough left…
CUCCIDATI BAR COOKIES
(very slightly modified from Augustina Zaccardi)
Pasta Frolla Dough:
260 Grams of All-Purpose Flour
60 Grams of Granulated Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon of Kosher Salt
114 Grams of Cold Unsalted Butter
2 Large Eggs
1/4 Cup of Toasted Almonds
2 Tablespoons of Toasted Pine Nuts (I used sunflower seeds)
1 Cup of Diced Dried Figs (stems removed)
2 Teaspoons of Orange Zest
1/2 Teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Cup of Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
2 Tablespoons of Honey
2 Tablespoons of Apricot Preserves
2 Tablespoons of Water
1/2 Teaspoon Rum Extract
3/4 Cup of Powdered Sugar
3-4 Teaspoons of Milk
2-3 Tablespoons of multicolored sprinkles
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a food processor and pulse about 5 times until combined. Cut the butter into 6 pieces and add to the flour. Pulse 10-15 times until the butter is incorporated and the mixture looks powdery or sandy. Add the eggs and pulse until the dough comes together. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 5-6 times to form a smooth dough. Divide the dough in half and roll each piece between 2 pieces of parchment paper to an approximately 8” square. The thickness should be about 3/16”. Place both pieces on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes.
Make the filling: Place the almonds in a food processor and pulse until they are coarsely chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and process until all the ingredients are combined and the mixture is a paste but with still some visible pieces of chocolate and almonds. Set aside. AVOID SAMPLING IT.
Assemble the cookies: Spread the filling as a 8 inch square over plastic wrap over a cookie sheet. Place in the fridge as you prepare the cookie component. Line the bottom of an 8” square pan with parchment paper so that some of the paper overhangs the sides. Remove one piece of the dough from the freezer and trim it into an 8” square or the size of the bottom of your pan. Place it in the bottom of the pan. If the dough softens a bit place it back in the freezer. You want the dough to firm when you spread the filling or it could tear. Carefully lay the filling over the dough, using the plastic wrap to help you out. Gently spread the filling to the edges with a spatula. Remove the second piece of dough from the freezer and trim it to the size of the pan and place it on top of the filling and gently press.
Bake for 23-25 minutes or until the top is a light golden brown.
Remove from the oven and place the pan on a rack to cool. When completely cool, remove the bars form the pan, peel off the parchment paper and place on a board. Mix together the powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Pour the icing on top of the bars and spread with an offset spatula. Scatter the sprinkles over the top. When fully set, cut in diamond shapes or any other shape you prefer.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: I tell you one thing, the filling is spectacular. I envision it in small tartlets, bite-size, in a future adventure. It is sweet, nutty, complex. This was my first time making cuccidati, so I was not quite sure if the amount of filling was too much but I am glad with the way it turned out. I used the full amount for the 8-inch square pan. These are cookies perfect for the holiday season, but if you change the color of the sprinkles, it will be a Birthday-Easter-4th of July-Valentine’s-whatever you feel like it cookie. It is that good!
Tina, thank you for the constant inspiration!
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