These days, I don't eat many marzipan fruits, but I do have a weakness for cookies made with almond paste. Now, marzipan and almond paste are not the same thing - generally speaking, marzipan contains more sugar than almond paste. However, the flavors are quite similar. I was bringing dessert over to someone's house and decided to make something with the tube of almond paste sitting in my pantry. I flipped through a few cookbooks and settled on a recipe for pignoli cookies from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. The recipe looked like my favorite almond paste cookies with a fun twist - the balls of dough are rolled in pine nuts before baking.
I really like pine nuts, but my husband? Not so much. Our conversation went like this:
Me: I'm making cookies. You're not going to like them.
Him: Cookies? How could I not like cookies?
Me: (flips through cookbook, holds up the picture)
Him: Pine nuts? You're making pine nut cookies? Why don't you just make sawdust cookies? Or perhaps some cookies that contain gravel?
Yeah. He doesn't like pine nuts. So, in the spirit of compromise, I rolled half the cookies in pine nuts, and half in pearl sugar.
These cookies were really good, and very simple to make. There was a big difference between the cookies rolled in pine nuts and the ones rolled in pearl sugar, but I liked them both.
Makes about 18 cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
7 ounces almond paste
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, plus more for dusting
2 large egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 T all purpose flour
a pinch of kosher salt
1 cup pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with racks in the center and lower third. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
Crumble the almond paste in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the almond paste and both sugars on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg whites and vanilla; beat on medium speed until a smooth paste forms, about 4 minutes. Add the flour and salt; beat until combined, about 2 minutes. The dough will be very soft and tacky.
Spread pine nuts in a single layer on a plate. Scoop out a tablespoon of dough; using dampened fingers, drop the dough onto the pine nuts, coating one side. Transfer rounds, coated side up to the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges of cookies and pine nuts have turned golden brown, about 15-17 minutes. Transfer cookies on parchment to a wire rack to cool completely. Using an offset spatula, carefully loosen the cookies from the parchment. Dust cookies with confectioner's sugar. Cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.