The Catholic Italians reading may recognize this recipe as St. Joseph's altar cookies, or Sicilian fig cookies. They are also a tradition in Paul Petronella's family. We love Paul for his authentic Italian flavor at his restaurant, Paulie's, so we asked him to share a dessert recipe as an Easter treat.

Touted in his cookbook, Paulie's, as a great starter recipe for kids learning basic baking skills, these cookies may be simple to make, but delicious to eat. This recipe will make about 2 dozen. Thank you for sharing your recipe with us, Paul! 


For the Dough

  • 2 cups Bob's Red Mill baking flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening 
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Filling

  • 1/2 cup dry figs
  • 1/2 cup dried dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup pecan pieces (Paul recommends Bonne Maman brand)

For the Icing

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • Colored sprinkles 


  1. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar and mix well. 
  2. Work in the shortening with a fork. 
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg, milk and vanilla. 
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients and beat for several minutes, until dough is formed. 
  5. Knead the dough with your hands for another 5 minutes. 
  6. Split the dough into two pieces, wrap with plastic, and let stand for 30-45 minutes. *If you doubled the recipe, separate into four pieces. 
  7. Finely chop the figs, dates, raisins and pecans. Add to mixing bowl and add preserves. Mix well, until ingredients are incorporated. The preserves will act as the glue. Set aside. 
  8. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
  9. With a rolling pin, roll out dough no thicker than 1/4 inch. Do your best to roll out the dough into a square shape. You can roll dough between two pieces of parchment paper, if you want to cut down on flour mess. Cut the square in half horizontally, left to right. Along the center of each piece, fill with fig mixture. Roll into a nice tight log, sealing along the center and on the ends. Place the seam facing down. 
  10. Cut cookies from the log, about 2 inches in width each. You can cut off the ends if they are too doughy. Also, cut three slits on one side of each cookie. Place cookies on baking sheet and fan out the side with slits. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. 
  11. Let cookies cool. Then make icing combining confectioners' sugar, milk, and vanilla. Mix well, making sure it's not too runny. Brush the top of each cookie with icing. If adding sprinkles, do so right away. 
  12. Enjoy!