These Italian Pignoli cookies are the ideal cookie for Christmas. A simple cookie made of almond paste mixed with sugar and egg white and coated in pine nuts. Italian Pignoli cookies are chewy on day one and two but slowly progress to dry out and develop a crunch.
Italian Pignoli cookie recipe
Just like the Italian fig cookies, cuccidati and krumkake I made last year for Christmas this recipe is adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent. Because Italian Pignoli cookies are so easy to make with store bought almond paste these can be whipped up quickly. However Greg Patent supplied a recipe for Homemade Almond Paste which I have adapted. These cookies are made with my Homemade Almond Paste. If you use store bought, please be sure to buy a good quality that contains more almonds than sugar. With differences in qualities of Almond Paste your cookies may flatten more than mine or have a slight different texture. Be sure to check the notes in the recipe.
Covered in pine nuts these cookies have an almost savoury note which is really quite addictive. Italian Pignoli cookies really deserve a place in your Christmas baking. Besides their deliciousness what I love most of all is that the dough can be prepared a day or two ahead of time and the finished cookies can be frozen for a month.
Have you started your Christmas baking? Or are you a last minute sort of baker? What a wonderful time of the year for bakers, don’t you think?
Blessings to you,
Italian Pignoli Cookies
- 250 grams (8oz) almond paste homemade or store bought
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 large egg whites
- 2-3 cups pine nuts as needed
Home made Almond Paste
- 350 grams (2 ½ cups) ground almonds
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 egg white
- Break up almond paste with fingers into small pieces. Pulse in the food processor until sandy texture. Add sugar and continue to pulse until well combined. With processor running add egg whites slowly through the chute until the mixture forms a thick dough. It shouldn't be runny so you may not use all the egg white.
- Remove mixture to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
- The next day, preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line two baking trays with non stick paper.
- Place the pine nuts into a flat bowl.
- Drop teaspoonful of mixture into the pinenuts and toss well to coat. Pressing in pine nuts and shaping into a ball.
- Place balls onto baking tray leaving a bit of room for spreading.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating trays to ensure even browning.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes until the cookies are firm. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store in airtight container.
To make homemade Almond Paste
- Place almond meal into the bowl of food processor
- Put sugar and water into a small saucepan. Don't stir just swirl over medium heat to make sure the sugar has dissolved.
- Bring to boil. Cover the pan and cook for exactly 3 minutes.
- Uncover the pan, swirl two or three times
- Check the temperature of the syrup with a sugar thermometer. You need the syrup to reach 115C/240F. It should be close to the temperature.
- Keep monitoring until the syrup is ready
- Start the food processor and add the hot syrup through the chute in a steady stream. It should take around 10 seconds.
- Continue to process for a minute or two.
- Add the egg white through the chute with the motor running. Allow to combine well.
- Remove almond paste from food processor bowl and onto work surface. Knead for 2 or 3 minutes until smooth. Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least a day to allow the flavours to develop.
- Allow extra time for resting or prepare the day ahead
- If using store bought almond paste be sure to buy quality paste that has a high almond content.
- These cookies are made with homemade almond paste. Cookies made with store bought almond paste may vary.
- If preparing homemade Almond paste allow for overnight resting or almond past can be made a 2 or 3 weeks in advance
- These cookies are best fresh but I liked how they matured over a few days turning from soft to almost dry and crunchy.
- However the cookies can be frozen for up to a month. Thaw them in their wrapping