Italian pine nut cookies

Perfect pignoli pine nut cookies: It took a great deal of experimentation to finally arrive at the recipe for perfect pignoli. By which I mean, those that are available all over Rome and gluten free.

In my experience, pignoli, which are little cookies covered in pine nuts, should be slightly crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. They should not be too sweet and should be about the size of a ping-pong ball.

I have seen quite a few recipes that call for almond paste, which is very expensive and actually makes the pignoli far too sweet. Oh, and by the way, marzipan is not a good substitute for almond paste, being even sweeter. Furthermore, use only confectioners sugar and you will attend perfect pignoli cookies.

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Perfect pignoli cookies – makes 16 – 18

  • 220 g Almond flour
  • 220 g Icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
  • 1/8 Fine sea salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Pure almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons Pure orange extract – plus 1 teaspoon of orange zest (optional)
  • 100 g Pine nuts, not toasted
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients, except the pine nuts.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients.
  3. Bring these ingredients together in either a food processor or by using an electric mixer. Mix to form a soft and lightly sticky paste. Be mindful of the consistency. You can add more almond flour if necessary but add it in very small amounts. The dough should be sticky but not overly so.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325F/162C.
  5. Prepare a shallow dish of pine nuts
  6. Using a tablespoon, or small ice cream scoop, lift out some paste and form into a ball.
  7. Dip the ball into the pine nuts keeping the bottom free.
  8. Arrange on a cookie pan covered with some baking paper, about 2 inches apart and gently press down on each on to flatten it slightly.
  9. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 – 24 minutes or until lightly browned.
  10. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
  11. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.


You can go ahead and double the amounts in this recipe. It works just fine.

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