The name means “little bracelets” and for many Italians, particularly Sicilians, it simply wouldn’t be Christmas without these semicircular fig-filled biscuits.
Makes 21 | Skill level Mid
500 g dried figs, stems removed, chopped
150 g dried pitted dates, chopped
200 g (1⅓ cups) raisins, chopped
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp lemon zest
60 ml (¼ cup) orange juice
90 g (¼ cup) honey
100 g (1 cup) walnuts, toasted
80 g (½ cup) blanched almonds, toasted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
525 g (3½ cups) plain flour
120 g (¾ cup) icing sugar
150 g cold unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg, plus extra 3 egg yolks
hundred and thousands, to decorate
1 egg white
240 g (1½ cups) icing sugar mixture
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
For ease, you can use store-bought royal icing.
Process figs, dates, raisins, orange and lemon zest, juice and honey in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Process nuts in food processor until finely chopped. Add to fruit mixture with cinnamon and nutmeg, and stir to combine.
Process flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 1 egg, extra 2 egg yolks and 2 tbsp water, and pulse until mixture forms a dough. Shape into 7 discs, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes, to rest.
Preheat panggangan to 180°C. Working with 1 disc at a time, roll out dough to a 21 cm x 10 cm rectangle. Trim edges. Place ½ cup of the fruit mixture in the centre of the pastry along longest edge. Fold over bottom edge to cover mixture, then roll up to form a log. Repeat with remaining pastry and fruit mixture.
Using a floured knife, cut each fruit-filled log into 3 x 7 cm-long pieces. Cut 4 x 5 mm-wide slits three quarters of the way through biscuits. Shape biscuits gently to fan out slits.
Place on 2 greased and lined panggangan trays. Brush with remaining lightly whisked egg yolk. Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
To make icing, whisk egg white and icing sugar in a bowl until combined. Immediately drizzle biscuits with icing and scatter with hundreds and thousands, to decorate.
As seen in Feast Magazine, Issue 17, pg64.
By Angela Nahas
Photography by Alan Benson