Italian Pignoli Cookies

2 minute read

The one food-blog I read weekly (if not more often) is Food Blogga. Although Susan doesn’t seem to be strictly vegetarian, most of her recipes are, which I appreciate a lot. And more importantly, they all seem exquisite and are presented with anecdotes and humor. And I have to mention that her pictures are so irresistible that I want to lick my computer screen.

One recipe I’ve been day-dreaming of for months is her Italian pignoli cookies, which are almond paste cookies covered with pine nuts. I cracked up yesterday and made a batch, and then phone a friend at 9 PM to have tea and cookies with me. I have wonderful friends.

My favorite cookies are Amaretti, so I really had to try these ones as there are a mouth-watering variation on the same theme. Susan claims that her pignoli cookies are so easy to make that “even a meteorologist can do it”. That is, a meteorologist with a food processor. It takes a bit more effort if you do it by hand. The challenge is to blend well the almond paste with the other ingredients because it forms lumps. Even using my hands to blend the almond paste with the sugar didn’t quite worked. (But I ended with amazingly soft, exfoliated hands. It’ was well worth the try!) So I put the almond paste, sugar and ground pine nut in the blender to obtain a sandy mixture. That’s tricky, because a very firm dough formed under the blades and I could hear the motor forcing. Anyway, it worked well enough to blend those ingredients. I put it back in a big bowl and whisked in the egg whites, vanilla and flour. For an unknown reason (big egg whites or I ate to much almond paste in the process), the dough was too liquid to form a ball, so I added more flour until the right consistency was reached. But in the end, it really is a fool-proof recipe because it yielded a magnificent result :

And a close up :

What to do with the leftover egg yolks? Mine ended in a luxurious thick eggnog. It was improvised, but it roughly goes like this :


  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar (or more, to taste)
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 oz of good fragrant dark rum (or more, to taste)

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks with a whisk. Add the sugar and whisk a minute or two. In a small saucepan, heat the milk on medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the milk is hot (but not boiling), pour some of it in the egg mixture and whisk to obtain a homogeneous liquid. Pour this mixture in the milk along with the cinnamon and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until it thickens. Add the vanilla and rum, stir well and serve.