Pignoli—Sicilian Almond-Pine Nut Cookies

Some of the best almonds and pine nuts in the world grow in Sicily’s famous volcanic soil. So it’s no surprise that the bakers there would come up with a cookie that features both so deliciously. Sun Basket pastry chef Paul Conte’s recipe for these tender, chewy, and gluten-free cookies known as pignoli (Italian for “pine nuts”) are his interpretation of the ones found in Italian bakeries all over America and are easy to make at home. They can go stale quickly, so enjoy them warm out of the oven, but we’ve never found that to be a problem. 

Sicilian Pignoli Recipe

Makes about 15 cookies
Serving Size: 1 cookie

Shopping List 
For the cookies:
1½ cups almond flour
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
Kosher salt
2 large egg whites
⅛ teaspoon almond extract

For the decoration:
1 egg white
2 tablespoons pine nuts
½ cup sliced blanched almonds

2 small bowls, 2 medium bowls, mixer, optional, sheet pan

1 Make the cookie dough
Heat the oven to 325ºF.
In a medium bowl, stir together the almond flour, ½ cup sugar, and a pinch of salt. 
In another medium bowl using a whisk, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed, gradually adding the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, until soft peaks form (the egg whites should be the consistency of whipped cream).
Scrape the whipped egg white mixture into the dry ingredients. Add the almond extract and fold the egg whites and extract into the dry ingredients to form a smooth dough. 

2 Shape and decorate the cookies

  • Place the egg white in a small bowl.
  • Place the pine nuts in another small bowl.
  • Spread the almonds in an even layer on a plate. 
  • Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or lightly grease with oil. 

Using a teaspoon, scoop the dough into 1-inch rounds, then roll into balls with your hands. Working with 1 ball at a time, dip the balls in the egg white, turning to coat, then transfer the balls to the plate with the almonds. Press with a few of the pine nuts, then roll in the almonds. Transfer the prepared balls to the prepared sheet pan, spacing them about 1 inch apart. 

3 Bake the cookies
Bake in the oven, rotating the sheet pan once halfway through,  until lightly golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the sheet pan. 

4 Serve
Transfer the cookies to a serving plate. Serve warm on their own, or with tea, coffee, or grappa. 

Nutrition per serving: Calories: 130, Protein: 4g (8% DV), Fiber: 2g (8% DV), Total Fat: 8g (12% DV), Monounsaturated Fat: 1.5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 0.5g (3% DV), Cholesterol: 0mg (0% DV), Sodium: 40mg (2% DV), Carbohydrates: 12g (4% DV), Total Sugars: 9g, Added Sugars: 8g (16% DV). Not a significant source of trans fat. 

Bonus recipe—ingredients not included in box.