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Hi Bold Bakers!
WHAT YOU GET: Gluten-free and packed with almond flavor, my homemade Pignoli cookies are delicate and moist, with the satisfying crunch of pine nuts.
Pignoli are in a class of their own — these Italian cookies are incredibly moist and so delicate they practically melt in your mouth, but with the bonus of a wonderfully addicting crunchy exterior, that’s covered in toasted pine nuts. If you’re a fan of almond-flavored desserts, this is definitely one you have to try.
Most pignoli recipes are made with almond paste, but my homemade pignoli recipe is a tad easier to make. I make them with almond flour instead! When using almond paste, you have to process it with sugar and salt. Almond flour helps skip that step. Plus, since we’re using almond flour instead of all-purpose flour, these pignoli cookies are still gluten-free! Pignoli are dairy-free, too!
These cookies are popular in southern Italy and Italian-American homes, especially around Christmas. But I say you should never strictly keep a dessert to just one time of the year! Make a batch of these whenever the cravings hit, and have a nice cup of tea with them.
What Are Pignoli Cookies?
Pignoli (which is both the singular and plural form of the word) are soft, chewy cookies that are made with very few ingredients. Typically they are made with almond paste, but my recipe calls for almond flour. In addition to the almond flour, they are made with sugar, egg whites, powdered sugar, almond extract, and salt and covered in pine nuts.
In fact, “pignoli” means “pine nuts!”
What Are Pine Nuts? What Do Pine Nuts Taste Like?
Pine nuts aren’t actually nuts, they’re seeds, but they do come from some species of pine trees! Harvesting pines is a bit difficult, and it takes a long time before trees even start producing pine nuts, so they tend to be a bit expensive. However, if you have the means, they are absolutely delicious!
You may be familiar with one of their most popular uses — pine nuts are the key ingredient in pesto sauce, but you can also use them in baked goods!
Pine nuts taste a bit like cashews — they have a delicate nutty flavor with a touch of sweetness. If your pine nuts taste bitter, it’s likely your batch has gone bad.
Tools You Need To Make Italian Pignoli Cookies
Gemma’s Pro Chef Tips For Making Pignoli
- These cookies are usually made with almond paste, but we have reworked this recipe to use almond flour to make it even easier!
- This cookie dough is very soft. If it is too difficult to handle, refrigerate it for 30 minutes before rolling.
- Pine nuts are edible seeds from pine trees. They tend to be expensive because of the time and effort it takes to grow and harvest.
- Pine nuts taste soft, nutty, and a little sweet. If you want to try these cookies but can’t find pine nuts, chopped cashews will make a good substitute.
- These lovely cookies happen to be gluten-free and dairy-free!
Try More Of My Favorite Cookies Recipes!
- Chewy Maple Pumpkin Cookies
- Gemma’s Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
- Cinnamon Roll Cookies
- Homemade Hamantaschen Cookies
- Gemma’s Best-Ever Oatmeal Cookies
Italian Pignoli Cookies
- ⅓ cup (2½ oz/71 g) granulated sugar
- 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1¼ cups (5 oz/142 g) powdered sugar
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4½ oz/130 g) almond flour
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (5 oz/142 g) pine nuts
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl with a handheld electric mixer, beat the granulated sugar and egg whites together on medium speed for 1 minute.
- Add the powdered sugar, almond flour, almond extract, and salt, and mix on medium speed until combined.
- Roll rounded tablespoon-sized scoops of dough into balls, then roll the tops and sides in the pine nuts to coat.
- Place the cookies 2 inches (5 cm) apart on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden.
- Let cool on the baking sheet until firm enough to handle, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.