My grandmother holding the cake with drawings of her 8 children on it, made by my Aunt Mary Jane

My grandmother holding the cake with drawings of her 8 children on it, made by my Aunt Mary Jane

Fig Cookie Recipe

Fig/raisin filling for the sarmetina cookies

Sarmatina Fig Cookie Recipe from my Calabrese Grandmother, Emmecalata Fragomeni Vallelonga, who I just called Nunnie.

Whenever I travel to Italy, I love to try the different desserts (dolce) from each town. There are regional differences and even variations in the traditions from one city to another.

This Calabrian cookie is a substantial healthy and delicious fig and raisin filled crescent-shaped cookie that my Nunnie made all the time when I was growing up. She always used raisins with the figs, and I wonder if it was because raisins were easier or cheaper to get in the states.

Since my grandmother spoke in a dialect from the area around Siderno, Italy in Calabria, the sarmatina may be a local name because I cannot find the word on the internet anywhere, but of course, fig cookies abound in Italy where figs grow abundantly.

Having immigrated to the US at the age of 14 with her widowed mother, and 3 other siblings, my maternal grandmother loved to bake. After getting married at age 17 I guess it’s a good thing considering she and my grandfather raised eight children together.

All four of my grandparents immigrated from Calabria, Italy, so the the Italian traditions were kept alive on both sides of my family. My paternal grandparents immigrated from San Giovanni in Fiore in the Sila National Forest, and my maternal grandparents lived in Caulonia and Siderno in Calabria.

This summer, while visiting my family, we gathered for a morning of cookie baking–my mom, her two sisters and I made a batch of sarmetina Italian cookies. The figs and raisins are so sweet that I think the sugar could be decreased.

Fig Cookie Recipe

The dough is cut into 3″ rounds. Add 1/2 tsp of filling in the center and fold into crescent moon shapes.

Fig Cookie Recipe

Baked on ungreased cookie sheets until light in color (not golden)

The sisters: Josephine (my mom), Mary Jane, Angelina

The sisters: Josephine (my mom), Mary Jane, Angelina

The name of the cookie is a mystery to me but the memories are forever emblazoned in my heart.

Enjoy the yumminess of Calabrian cookies. Buon Appetito!

Sarmetina Raisin Fig Cookies

  • 6 C. flour
  • 2 sticks butter (oleo in original recipe, but I never use oleo)
  • 2 C. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. soda
  • 1/2 C. milk plus
  • 1 Tbl vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Filling: Make ahead of time and let cool.

  • 2 C. raisins
  • 1 C. figs
  • 1 C honey
  • 1 orange, ground up, using rind and juice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1 C. chopped nuts

Cook all ingredients for the filling on the stovetop, except for the nuts. If it’s too thick, add a little orange juice or some coffee. Cook about 5 minutes. Let cool. Then stir in the nuts.

In large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt. Work in the 2 sticks of butter with your hands. It should look like corn meal. In another bowl, whisk the two eggs, milk, and vinegar together. Make a well in the flour mixture. Pour in the eggs and milk mixture. Mix well to form a stiff dough.  Roll out thin and cut with 3 inch round cutter or glass.  Put 1/2 tsp or so of filling in the center of each round and fold over into a crescent shape.

You could brush tops with milk or egg wash and then decorate with sprinkles.
Press with the fork around the edges.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 7 minutes. Then change racks and bake 7 more minutes at 350 degrees. But, you may want to check them sooner adjusting to your individual oven.

Makes 9 dozen

Buon appetito!

Learn more about traveling to Italy on Lenora’s Italy Retreats For Women
Find out more about Lenora’s Sweet Life Workshops and Sweet Life Happiness Coaching.

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