Pignoli (Pine Nut Cookies): Traditional Italian Cookie Recipe
Pignoli, a type of macaroon, is an almond-flavored cookie
topped with pine nuts (pignoli in
Italian.) Typically, they contain no flour. Because they are made with almond
paste (or almonds) and pine nuts – both expensive ingredients – the cookies are
considered a special luxury.
Prep time: 10-20 minutes
Bake time: 22-25 minutes
Makes about 24-30 cookies
2 cups slivered almonds
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
3 egg whites, lightly beaten
½ cup pine nuts
- Preheat oven to 300º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment
- Separate eggs. Set aside egg yolks to use in another recipe.
Use a whisk to lightly beat the egg whites until they begin to froth. (To
produce a lighter, meringue-like texture, beat the egg whites with an electric
mixture on medium speed.)
- Set almonds and granulated sugar in a food processor.
Process on high until almonds are very finely ground, pausing once or twice to
scrape the bowl’s sides, about 3-43 minutes. Add powdered sugar and process
until it is completely incorporated. Pour in eggs. Process the mixture until a
smooth dough forms.
- Insert a medium open-star tip in a pastry bag or cookie
press. Fill the bag or press with the dough. Pipe one-inch mounds onto prepared
baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Gently press 10-15 pine nuts onto the top
of each mound.
- Bake the cookies for 22-25 minutes, rotating baking sheets
- Remove baking sheet from the oven. Allow cookies to cool
completely. Remove cookies from parchment paper to a wire rack.
- Store cookies in an airtight container with waxed paper in
A Special Baking Tip
from The Elf
Pignoli are a type of meringue. If you lightly beat the egg
whites before adding them to the almond mixture, the cookies will have a
cake-like texture. To make them with a lighter, puffy texture, beat the eggs
until they nearly form soft peaks. Then fold the egg whites into the almond
mixture with a spatula, rather than in the food processor, to maintain the air
in the batter.
Cookie Fun Fact
Pine nuts, to the surprise of many, are the edible
seeds from (yes!) pine trees. Two pine nut varieties predominate in baking: the
Mediterranean (or Italian) pine nut, an
oblong, lightly-flavored seed and the Chinese pine nut, a triangular seed with a
stronger flavor. Harvesting pine nuts is time- and labor-intensive. Once pine cones
are collected, they are heated to open up their scales so seeds can be
The Elf recommends these other Italian cookie recipes
Cherry Biscotti: a fresh version of a traditional Italian cookie recipe
Cranberry Almond Biscotti: low-carb, low fat Italian cookie ...
Italian Cookie Recipes: crown jewels in Italian confections ...
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