There is something about pine nut cookies, or pignoli cookies, that brings me right back to the bakeries, or pasticcerie of Italy. Their smell, chewy texture and flavor brings me right back to my childhood in Italy. Particularly, the times when my grandfather would drive from our small town and head into the larger city, about 45 minutes away. Usually the main reason for his trip was a doctor's appointment. Despite the reason for the trip, or perhaps because of it, he'd bring back with him a small batch of cookies from the city bakeries. Never mind the fact that he was a diabetic! His sweet tooth often won over his cravings. But isn't funny how a smell or simple cookie can bring up such long-forgotten memories? This is over 30 years ago! Nowadays, even the small towns in Italy have their own bakery, but during those times, we'd have to take a bit of a drive for things like these. Which, I didn't mind at all and rather enjoyed the quality time with my family.
Pine nut cookies are chewy, sweet, have a distinctive taste but have a short shelf life. After a few days, they go from chewy to really, really chewy! These are best eaten fresh. And considering how expensive both the pine nuts and almond paste are, you don't want to let one go to waste! I add a bit of flour into the batter. Not all recipes do that, but I found that it adds some body to the otherwise too-sweet cookie. You'll need a food processor for these cookies, but no mixer!
Prep all of your ingredients so you have everything at the ready. Do this every time you cook or bake, It will make your life so much easier!
Grinding up the pine nuts and almond paste. Adding some pine nuts adds to the overall flavor of the cookies as oppose to just topping the cookies with them.
The rest of the few ingredients have been added. Yes, my spatula says "Keep Calm and Bake On" - somebody knows me well!
Here are the pignoli, reserved for the topping. Some folks roll the cookies right in the pine nuts. I find that this adds way to much chewyness so I just top the cookies with them. If you prefer rolling, you can, but just know you will end up using a lot more pine nuts.
Scooped up and ready to have the pine nuts added before heading for the oven. Using a small ice cream scoop will ensure that they are all the same size.
Approx 1.5 Cups Pine Nuts - Separated
1 7 oz tube of Almond Paste
3/4 Cup Sugar
2 Egg Whites (Always reserve the yolks for use in something else!)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 Cup Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Flour
1) Preheat oven at 325 degrees.
2) In the food processor, pulse 1/4 cup of pine nuts until ground, resembling cornmeal.
3) Chop the almond paste and add to pine nuts, pulse again until well incorporated.
4) Add the sugar and vanilla and pulse again until combined.
5) Add the egg whites, pulse until the batter comes together.
6) Add the flour and salt until eventually all the ingredients come together to form a smooth dough.
7) Using a small ice cream scoop or two rounded teaspoons, drop dough into cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silpad. Space about 2 inches apart. Top with reserved pine nuts.
8) Bake for 20 minutes, until sized are slightly browned.
9) Cool on rack or clean paper towels.
10) Place in serving platter and if desired dust with some powdered sugar.
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