Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pignoli cookies

When I was a kid, I was always intrigued by those brightly colored marzipan fruits. People would tell me that they were for decoration; that they looked much better than they actually tasted. When I finally got my hands on some, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I love marzipan - I've been a fan ever since.

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.


Pignoli cookies
Makes about 18 cookies

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.

72 comments:

Live.Love.Eat said...

Both cookies look beautiful. I love me some pine nuts!!!!

thecleanveggie said...

oh la la! these sound really good!

Claudia said...

I adore pignoli cookies! Yours looks a wee bit easier than mine. When in NYC, I buy bagfuls of those and the sesame ones. Oh many! Now you ahe me thinking f NYC and pignoli cookies!

Selba said...

I wanna try the pignoli cookies...

Oh... and I love marzipan :)

Tracey said...

Both versions look great! I don't like pine nuts either so I know how your husband feels :)

Reeni♥ said...

I love these. They both look equally delicious!

Usha said...

I have never tried these cookies but both of them look really lovely and delicious too :-)

Elyse said...

Mmm--both versions look delicious! I love the idea of putting a pinenut in a cookie...there's something that just seems so right about!

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

Oooh! What is pearl sugar, and where can I get it???? :D :D

Sara said...

Your cookies (both sugar and pine nut)look delicious!

I have to compromise on those things occasionally, too....

5 Star Foodie said...

Love both of those! What a great idea to make cookies with pine nuts. I love that these are healthy too with only egg whites being used.

Olivia said...

I would've never thought to add pine nuts to cookies. I love that conversation you posted about his reaction to pine nut cookies. haha

Barbara Bakes said...

You always have the most interesting posts. I've never heard of pignoli cookies. My husband loves almond cookies. He'd love these cookies.

Donna-FFW said...

They look so pretty. I so do love pine nuts. One of my favorite things to make with them is a roasted red pepper pesto. I wish I had one with my coffee, seriously, I could do damage on those!

Femin Susan said...

It is my great mistake that I came to your blog with my tummy empty.So I feel like eating all these photos up.I did click click clicking like friends.
Cheers!

Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

Both versions look very yummy to me. Oh and I love Marzipan with my coffee.

Yasmeen said...

Love the pine nut topping.I'm using almond butter a lot these days usually for baking.These cookies must be scrumptious and healthful with almonds.

Leslie said...

LOL...sawdust cookies. I like them both!

Ricardo said...

Bolachinhas bem deliciosas e com uma apresentação de explodir o paladar.
Nice little biscuits with a wonderful presentation good enough to explode the taste buds

teresa said...

How cool, those look wonderful!

Cathy said...

lol at your husbands gravel comment! The cookies look great!

Cheryl said...

You are a very sweet wife! I have never had that kind of cookie before, they look really good and I do love pine nuts..

Sophie said...

MMMMM...I like verything with pine nuts,especially in cookies!! The different cookies look so yummie:)!!!

Katherine Aucoin said...

I need to get cracking and try these. This is the second blog I've found with Pignoli cookies. They look so delicious Sarah!

stephchows said...

These are one of my favorite cookies! I LOVE almond paste!!! I can eat it straight up to my hearts content haha.

alexandra said...

you are so nice to compromise. Me: I love pine nuts. In anything. cookies, salads, whatever.

Also, where did you find that pearl sugar? I used to love going to this Belgian sugar waffle company in Phildelphia. Pearl sugar was folded right into the batter and they were delicious!

PS: I've moved: www.alexandracooks.com

Pam said...

I've never had these cookies before but I know I would love them. They look beautiful.

Navita said...

the conversation sounds familiar..lol..thts wht happens at my home too...lol...

i love pine nuts though...both for their look n texture!

Steph said...

I would love some sawdust cookies...haha, they look so good!! The pearl sugar cookies look so pretty.

Maria said...

Cute cookies!! I love these!

chuck said...

Sara, these cookies are beautiful. Can you send me a dozen?

Sara said...

How to Eat a Cupcake and Alexandra - I ordered the pearl sugar from the King Arthur website, I haven't been able to find it locally. It isn't too expensive, and a little goes a long way.

Cakebrain said...

I love pignoli and eat them at least 3 times a week in my arugula salad! I hadn't thought to put them in a cookie yet though so this reminds me to try it out!

Gloria Chadwick said...

I never thought to use pine nuts in cookies. What a great idea!

Carolyn Jung said...

Hah! This sounds like the conversation I have in my house.
Me: I'm making cookies.
Hubby: What kind?
Me: Chewy Ginger ones!! My fave!
Hubby: Must you? Can't you make chocolate-chip instead??
;)

unconfidentialcook said...

I still dream about the little place (that closed!) where I used to indulge in croissants made with almond paste. Love it, miss it...will try your cookies.

Cakelaw said...

LOL - it was very nice of you to compromise on the cookies. They look delicious.

Priscilla said...

Your cookies look so good. Yummy!

lisaiscooking said...

These look great. Both sound fantastic, but I do like pine nuts!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

These cookies looks wonderful and so pretty! Delicious!

Cheers and have a nice weekend,

Rosa

Diana said...

I love that the recipe calls for such few ingredients, yet the come out looking so complicated! (ie. beautiful)

noble pig said...

These are so cool! The salt and the almond...just love it.

Varsha Vipins said...

Cookies looks gorgeous sara..:)

Dana McCauley said...

I haven't made pignoli in years! Yours look great - thanks for reminding me of these great cookies.

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

Even though I like pine nuts, I'm not a big fan of pignoli cookies...and I like almond paste but don't like marzipan...confusing huh?

Lynda said...

I've not had this cookie before, but they look wonderful! Both look great.

Dee said...

Sara, looks scrummy! I love pine nuts and adore marizipan. So, can I use marzipan instead of the impossible to find in Malaysia almond paste?

kristine said...

Sara,
These were wonderful...thanks for sharing!

Amanda said...

These look beautiful, Sara. Well done.

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

I've never of these before but they sound magnificent. I have to admit I've never met anyone that doesn't like pine nuts either hehe

Girl Japan said...

I love pine nuts and love the cookies to... What a nice Italian staple cookie, looking darn fabulous.. the snaps are stunning.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Your cookies look spectacular. I too love almond paste.
Sam

Chef E said...

When my hubby first took me to a place where they have 'Italian' area, which we did not have in Texas, lol, I said "oh I want to try that almond past stuff" he laughed and said it was marzipan (not that I am a hick, lol) I just was learning about other cuisines and I was in love with those little fruit shapes that tasted so yummy! So yeah to this post!!!

Emily said...

Those cookies look very good.. very Italian. I've never tried incorporating pine nuts into a cookie before!

Lori Lynn said...

Gee they look so wonderful. I am a big fan of marzipan. My favorite chocolate is a See's candy: marzipan with dark chocolate.
I haven't made anything with pine nuts lately, thanks for the idea.
LL

Kevin said...

I like the sound of using pine nuts in cookies. They look really good!

Hayley said...

I love all sorts of Italian cookies, and yours look great!

Suzy said...

These look great. I'd go for the pine nut cookies first for sure. I love the candy coated ones..like Jordan almonds. The pearl sugar ones look good too, but now I need to go look up pearl sugar!

Maggie said...

Your husband sounds like mine. He sees no point in making any dessert that doesn't have chocolate in it. Both cookies sound great to me though.

Julie said...

They look wonderful both ways. I've never seen pearl sugar, will have to check that out.

The Caked Crusader said...

Lovely biscuits! I'd pick a pine nut one simply because I've never tried pine nuts in a sweet dish before - only in things like pesto.

Olga said...

Congratulations on making it to Tastespotting!!!! So happy for you :)

Cookies and cakes said...

These look great! My Aunt has given me her recipe for these! Yum :-)

Bharti said...

I'd take the pine nut ones!

SriLekha said...

pine nut topping looks too good! looks divine!

DEESHA said...

they look amazing

Judy said...

Your cookies look great. My Italian hubby also is not big on pine nuts.

Monica H said...

Pignoli muts always remind me of acationg in Santa Fe...sigh.

these look yummy!

ChefBliss.com said...

I love marzipan. I Holland it's everywhere, especially during the December holidays! I really miss it, but that's a good thing for my waist line!! LOL!! These cookies look wonderful and we love pine nuts -- thanks!!

Jude said...

I love the texture of pine nuts.. The crunch is so distinctive. I'm sure the pearl sugar ones were great too :)

Aparna said...

Lovely cookies and a great way to reach a compromise. Now you have two types of cookies.
With me its usually that like my cookies and stuff a less sweet and my husband loves them very sweet. Not easy to find a compromise here!:)

Jan said...

I love your husband's comment on the pine nuts. I'm sure I would like both versions of these cookies.