The name of these filled pastries is Cucidati, which is Sicilian for Buccellati, or "little bracelets". You may substitute butter for part or all of the lard if you wish.
INGREDIENTS (for 2 servings):
- 2 cups dried figs
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup currants
- 1/4 cup candied orange peel
- 1/4 cup toasted and sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 2 (1 ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/3 cup apricot preserves
- 1/4 cup dark rum
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 cup lard
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar for decoration
FOR THE FILLING: Stem the figs and quarter them. Place in a bowl and cover with boiling water; steep 10 minutes. Drain and chop coarsely in the food processor. Combine with yellow raisins, currants, candied orange peel, toasted sliced almonds, toasted pine nuts, bittersweet chocolate, apricot preserves, rum, instant espresso coffee, cinnamon, and cloves. To prepare in advance, cover tightly with plastic wrap and keep at a cool room temperature or in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
FOR THE DOUGH: Combine the flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl and stir to mix. Rub in the lard finely, leaving the mixture powdery. Beat 2 eggs and milk to combine in a small bowl and stir into the flour mixture to form a dough. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead lightly a few times. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill.
Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll each into a cylinder about 12 inches long. Flour the surface and the dough lightly and roll it into a rectangle about 14 inches long and 3 inches wide.
Place a line of the filling down the center of each rectangle, using 1/12 of the filling for each piece of dough. Bring up the dough around the filling and pinch to seal. Turn the filled sausage of dough over so that the seam is on the bottom and cut it into 3 1/2- to 4-inch lengths. Using a sharp paring knife or single-edge razor blade, make a series of diagonal slashes in the top of each little sausage. Pull and twist gently, holding the sausage at each end to open the slashes.
Transfer to paper- lined cookie sheets, curving them into wide horseshoe shapes. Make an egg wash by beating the egg and salt together with a fork until it is loose. Paint each shape with the egg wash. Bake at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for about 20 minutes, or until they are a light golden color. Cool, dust with confectioners' sugar and store in tins, between layers of wax paper.