These delicious pignoli cookies have a soft, chewy almond-flavored inside, with a crispy, toasted pine nut coated exterior. Made with a food processor, these cookies are so simple to make at home.
Italian Pignoli Cookies
Pignoli, meaning pine nuts, are a unique cookie made from a combination of egg whites and almond paste, along with a good amount of sugar and then topped with plenty of pine nuts.
The textural contrast that the cookie provides, both soft and moist in the cookie, yet crunchy and brittle on the exterior thanks to the pine nuts, is incomparable to any other cookie in the world.
Despite how fancy they might appear, they are so incredibly simple to make at home, just as long as you have a convenient food processor.
Italian Pignoli Cookies Ingredients
Make sure you look at the recipe card at the very bottom for the exact amounts so that you know exactly what to buy for this recipe.
• Almond paste
• White sugar
• Icing sugar
• Egg whites
• Pine nuts
• Confectioner’s sugar
How To Make Italian Pignoli Cookies
• Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper
• Grind the almond paste and granulated sugar into a food processor, processing until smooth
• Add in the powdered sugar, salt and 2 egg whites and process until smooth
• Scrape the dough out into a medium bowl and refrigerate covered for 30 minutes
• Whisk the remaining 2 egg whites in a small bowl and set aside
• Place the pine nuts on a shallow plate next to the egg whites, and then a cookie sheet next to it
• Lightly flour your hands and then roll the dough into 1 inch balls
• Coat each dough ball in egg whites, shaking off any excess
• Roll them in the pine nuts, pressing them lightly to stick
• Arrange the balls on cookie sheets 2 inches apart
• Bake for 15 minutes at 325 Fahrenheit
How To Get Great Flavor From All Of your Ingredients
This recipe for Italian Pignoli cookies makes for a really delectable series of different flavors and textures, but there is also a lot of room for creating even more flavor through the careful choice of your ingredients.
For starters, you should try and get only the highest quality ingredients that you can. This means buying some really good quality, high-end almond paste, as well as getting the freshest pine nuts you can find.
While pine nuts are sold in these convenient little shaker tins at the supermarket, if you can find a market stall at a farmer’s market selling some fresh pine nuts, absolutely go with them instead.
Furthermore, why not try lightly toasting the pine nuts first? You don’t want to cook them too much, as the cookies do still bake in the oven first, but giving the pine nuts a light toasting in a dry pan for about 1 minute can really help create a lot of unique flavors and smoky aromas.
Finally, make sure to only use really fresh eggs in this recipe. Seeing as the egg whites are a big part of both the flavor and texture of this cookie, accidentally using slightly expired eggs is going to be noticeable.
That distinctive eggy smell that many people find disagreeable actually comes from the egg whites when they start to go off, so make sure to only use the freshest eggs you can find, ideally from a farmer’s market if you can find one.
How To Store Pignoli Cookies
The great thing about these cookies is how well they stay fresh and crunchy, yet moist on the inside, even after several days. This makes a lot of sense because many things that have their origin in Southern Italy need to be able to stand up well to warm temperatures and resist deteriorating before they can be enjoyed.
The way to keep them good on the counter is to keep them in a tightly sealed, airtight container. To stop the cookies from falling apart or the tops from oxidizing too much, make sure to lay sheets of wax paper or parchment paper in between each layer of cookies. This will help them be fresh and presentable at the same time.
For freezing these cookies, freeze them in a single layer on a baking tray in the freezer for about an hour or two, or until they firm up. From there, place them in a big, freezer-safe bag to allow them to completely freeze.
This process stops the cookies from sticking together in the freezer, and lets you take a cookie out one at a time from the bag to enjoy whenever you want!
Make sure to let them completely thaw at room temperature before eating, otherwise, you might crack your teeth on the pine nuts!
Looking for more delicious Cookie recipes? Try these out:
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Italian Pignoli Cookies
- Prep Time
- 15 minutes
- Cook Time
- 15 minutes
- Christmas Cookies, Dessert
- Karlynn Johnston
- 12 ounces almond paste
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 cup powdered/icing sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 ½ cups pine nuts
- confectioners' sugar for dusting optional
- Preheat oven to 325 °F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Place the almond paste and granulated sugar into a food processor, then process until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar. salt and 2 egg whites and process until smooth again.
- Scrape the dough out of the food processor and into a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Whisk the remaining 2 egg whites in small bowl and set aside.
- Place the pine nuts on shallow plate next to the egg whites, then place a cookie sheet beside it to form a working line. Lightly flour your hands then roll the dough into 1 inch balls.
- Coat each dough ball in egg whites, shaking off excess, then roll in the pine nuts, pressing lightly to stick.
- Arrange the balls on cookie sheets 2 inches apart.
- Bake 15 to 18 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned.
- Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
- Dust with a small amount of powdered sugar if desired.
All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.