Several years ago, I was given one of the most delicious cookies I had ever tasted. It was unique in taste and texture; completely unlike anything I had tried in the past. The restaurant where I tried the cookie does not share their recipe; however, I was able to find it at last. I am so excited to share this recipe after spending 3 years thinking about these cookies and wondering how on earth they were made. Many of the pine nut cookies I found were merely sugar cookies or shortbread topped with or rolled in pine nuts. I'm sure those cookies are delicious, but that was not what I was searching for all this time.
Crunchy, chewy, sweet and nutty, these cookies are a perfect match for any almond-lover. I shared these cookies with several friends a few nights ago and every single person that tasted them commented on how much they enjoyed them. They are an unexpected and absolutely perfect addition to the traditional line-up of holiday cookies.
Pine Nut Cookies (Pignoli or Pinon Cookies)
recipe and method slightly adapted from Shockingly Delicious
Yield: 30 cookies
1/4 cup pine nuts
8 ounces almond paste (NOT marzipan or almond cake filling) *
2/3 cup sugar
2 egg whites
In a small dry skillet, toast the pine nuts over low heat until they are fragrant. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, break up the almond paste. I simply used the pulse feature on my processor for a few seconds at a time, scraping the sides as needed. It only took a few minutes to turn the almost rock-hard paste into fine sand-like pieces. Add the sugar in two stages, processing for a few seconds each time to combine.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the almond mixture into the egg whites gently, making sure the mixture is well-combined. Place the dough in the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silpat mat or parchment paper (This is required for these cookies. They will stick to the baking sheet without it.)
Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheet. Press 6-8 pine nuts into the top of each cookie, pressing down slightly to flatten each ball of dough. Bake for 14-15 minutes, until each cookie is just barely browned at the edge. Cool 2-3 minutes on the baking sheet before removing to a wire rack. Enjoy!
* Almond Paste can be found in the baking aisle in many grocery stores. It is typically sold in an 8 ounce can. The paste will be very firm and the food processor step is required in order to work with it. The paste will not blend with the other ingredients until it has been broken into a granular mixture.
ONE YEAR AGO TODAY: Cheddar and Sausage Whole Wheat Biscuits