The name means "little bracelets" and for many Italians, particularly Sicilians, it simply wouldn’t be Christmas without these semicircular fig-filled biscuits.
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 oven 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 oven 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.
Photography by Alan Benson