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.
Pignoli cookies are chewy on day one and two but slowly progress to dry out and develop a crunch.
Why you’ll love this recipe
Covered in pine nuts these cookies have an almost savoury note which is really quite addictive. Pignoli cookies along with cuccidati, snowflake cookies and gingerbread pizzelle really deserve a place in your Christmas baking.
Besides being so delicious, 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.
These cookies are so easy to make with store bought almond paste these can be whipped up quickly. However homemade almond paste is not difficult and can be made in advance.
For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.
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.
- Break up almond paste and pulse in the food processor until crumbly.
- Add sugar and egg white and pulse until the mixture forms a thick dough.
- Refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
- Form dough into balls and roll in pinenuts.
- Bake until golden brown.
How to make Almond Paste
- Prepare a sugar syrup according to the almond paste recipe below
- With ground almonds in the food processor bowl, start the machine and pour the syrup into the chute in a steady stream
- Add the egg white while the food processor is still running
- Remove and knead the almond paste well.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Containing lots of almonds and pine nuts, Pignoli are definitely luxury cookie and very special to serve at Christmas. But because these are so easy, why wouldn’t you want to make them!
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Pignoli Cookie recipe
- 8 oz (250grams) almond paste homemade or store bought
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 cups pine nuts more as needed
Homemade Almond Paste
- 2½ cups (350 grams)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 350ºF/180º and line two baking sheets with non stick baking 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 240ºF/115ºC. 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