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Italian Pignoli Cookies

It wouldn't be Christmas in our house without these delicious favorites. They are made with almond paste, which creates a chewy on the inside, crispy on the outside cookie that is simply amazing. Pine nuts and almond paste can be pricey, but the results are truly worth every penny!

4 egg whites

2 cups granulated sugar

2 cups pine nuts (pignoli)

16 oz. almond paste

1 tsp. almond extract

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350, In a food processor place the almond paste which you have broken up into smaller chunks. Add the sugar and mix for about 30-45 seconds until the almond paste and sugar are completely combined to resemble wet sand. Now in a stand mixer, beat the egg whites just to a soft peaks stage, adding the almond extract as the eggs are beating. Once you have soft peaks, turn the mixer to low speed and gradually add the sugar mixture to the egg whites beating for just a minute or until it is all well mixed. You will have a sticky dough. With a spatula scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl just to make sure its all well combined. Place the bowl with the dough uncovered in the refrigerator for about an hour. Meanwhile place the pine nuts in a shallow dish. Fill a small bowl with cold water to lightly dip your fingers and palms as you form the cookies. This will keep them from sticking to your hands. line a cookie sheet with foil and lightly coat the foil with cooking spray. Once the dough has cooled, you are ready to form and bake your cookies. first lightly wet your hands. using a tablespoon, scoop up a small amount of dough (a little smaller than a walnut) using your finger, scrape it off the spoon into your palm, roll into a ball, and let the ball drop into the pine nuts. I usually do 3 or 4 at a time. Gently pick up the ball careful to shake off any excess pine nuts. Let it fall onto the cookie sheet so that the part without the pine nuts is on the bottom, pine nuts on top. Repeat periodically wetting your palm and fingers as needed. You should fit 15 cookies evenly onto the sheet. 3 rows of 5 cookies. This recipe will make about 45 cookies or 3 cookie sheets worth. Bake for about 12-14 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden but the middle tops are still lighter in color. Once out of the oven, you can slide the whole foil sheet with the cookies onto the countertop to cool. Once fully cooled, peel cookies away from the foil and store in an airtight container.

Note: There is no substitute for almond paste. Both pine nuts and almond paste can be purchased on Amazon or at stores such as Whole Foods, or Sprouts.


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