Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Italian Pine Nut Cookies (Pignoli or Pinon Cookies)

Italian Pine Nut Cookies (Pignoli or Pinon Cookies) recipe by Barefeet In The KitchenSeveral 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
(printable recipe)

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.

Italian Pine Nut Cookies (Pignoli or Pinon Cookies) recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

ONE YEAR AGO TODAY: Cheddar and Sausage Whole Wheat Biscuits


  1. Oooohhh... I too have had pine nut cookies before and they are to die for!! Thanks for posting this recipe.. I can't wait to try these!

  2. Almond and pine nuts...the combo sounds amazing!

  3. Ain't almond paste same as marzipan?

    1. Technically no, although the same ingredients are used to make both items. Almond paste is a mixture of finely ground blanched almonds, sugar, and water that is cooked until it reaches a smooth consistency. Almond paste is used for cooking, baking and for making marzipan.

      Marzipan, theoretically, is almond paste to which more sugar has been added. It is more pliable and it is used for molding and decorating.

      More information can be found here: http://www.ochef.com/1087.htm

  4. Pignoli cookies are my mom's favorite! I made them once last year and they weren't awesome...but I didn't use almond paste in them. Obviously my recipe was a dud. Need to try this one!

  5. These sounds so tasty Mary. I've never heard of them but an intrigued! Your photos are fantastic - I love successful recipes!

  6. I love pine nuts so I am certain I would love these cookies. They look delicious.

  7. I also searched for a recipe for this cookie for years! I finally found mine in a dessert book edited by Saveur magazine. I cannot wait to make them for Christmas. Once you have had these cookies you dream about them!

  8. this is a terrific recipe---suits me perfectly. love it when the recipe is naturally gluten free. I can't wait to try this.

  9. can I tell you an italian family secret? if you put a littttllleeeee drop of grand marnier on the bottom of the cookie kinda just drizzle it and let it soak in, them bake, you will die with love, ;)

    1. Sounds delicious! :)

  10. Good morning! I found that working with the canned almond paste was difficult; my solution has been to grate it with a hand held grater first. It breaks it down so small lumps don't ruin your baking effort. Wonderful cookies! Heidi

  11. Grating the almond paste is a good idea, but I've also made my own from scratch. I also add a teaspoon of almond extract to the batter. I've found that wearing gloves makes handling the sticky batter easier. I also use a small ice cream scoop to shape the batter, then roll them in the pignoli before baking.

  12. A friend of mine was telling me about these cookies. Her husband heads to an Italian Bakery each year and buys her a few!! Can't wait to bake them for her - THANK YOU!!


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