By far, the most popular cookie recipe among my extended family during the holidays. These chewy pignoli cookies are completely bursting with deep almond flavor. Pine nuts (pignolis) are pricy, but they’re such an excellent compliment in both texture and flavor, they’re worth using. If you want to be frugal, just place the pine nuts on the top of the cookies before baking; if you want to be decadent, roll the entire ball of cookie dough in the nuts before baking. Pine nuts are highly perishable so be sure to store them in an airtight container in the freezer.
Start with a bowl of pine nuts (try not to eat them before you make the cookies).
Start with egg whites, confectioners sugar, and a pinch of fine salt.
And the star ingredient, pure almond paste (not marzipan). Canned almond paste is best…
But there are some packaged almond pastes that are ok - squeeze the package to see if the paste inside is soft. This brand uses a foil-wrapping inside the box. There are also foil-wrapped logs available that are usually ok, but I find the clear cellophane-wrapped logs are usually hard and dried out. Avoid hard almond paste if you can.
Here you can see the 2 different brands are 2 different colors, but that’s okay - the food processor is going to take care of that in no time.
Place the almond paste in the food processor and pulse on and off until it resembles coarse sand.
The sight of ground almond paste makes me happy!
Add the confectioners sugar and salt to the ground almond paste.
Pulse a few more times until the confectioners sugar disappears, then add the egg white and process until a smooth paste forms.
I like to transfer the paste to a smaller container which makes it easier to work with. Use a #60 scoop (1 tablespoons) to portion out the sticky cookie dough.
Roll the dough in the pine nuts.
Place the pine nut coated balls of dough on a silicone lined half sheet pan and press the balls slightly so the pine nuts stick after baking.
Bake the cookies for 20 minutes and allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container for up to a week (best eaten within 3 or 4 days).
Italian Pine Nut Cookies (Pinoli, Pignoli, Pinon)
makes 60 cookies (#60 scoop)
1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) canned almond paste (not almond filling or marzipan)
1 1/3 cups (150 grams) confectioners sugar
3 large (90 grams) egg whites, room temperature
pinch of salt
1/2 pound (227 grams) pine nuts (aka pinoli, pignoli, pinon)
optional: confectioners sugar for dusting
Pulse almond paste in food processor until it resembles crumbs.
Add confectioners sugar and salt; pulse until it resembles sand.
Add egg whites and processes until a fine paste forms.
Flatten each ball of dough slightly and bake for 20 minutes; rest for 10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
Dust with additional confectioners sugar if desired.