003These moist, soft and chewy cookies are found in bakeries all over Sicily and southern Italy. They are a type of macaroon made with almond paste and topped with pinoli (pine nuts).

They are easy to make but because both almond paste and pinoli are rather expensive, they are reserved for holidays.

Because the soft dough is moist and sticky, many bakers prefer to put it into a pastry bad and pipe the dough onto a baking sheet … I am not one of those bakers! Instead, I chill the dough for 30 minutes to make it easier to handle. If you can’t find pine nuts, you can use blanched sliced almonds. The cookies won’t be traditional, but they will still be delicious. This recipe makes only 15 cookies, the perfect amount to fill a tray for coffee and cookies with the girls.


  • 8 ounces almond paste (not marzipan)
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg white, slightly beaten (or 3 tablespoons liquid egg whites)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  1. Using a food processor, break up the almond paste into it’s bowl, pulse until it’s small uniform crumbs.
  2. Add the sugar and salt, pulse until mixture resembles course sand.
  3. Add egg white and lemon zest, pulse for 15 seconds to make a smooth, soft dough.
  4. Transfer dough to a small bowl, cover and chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Using a teaspoon, form the dough into small balls, drop onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Top with the pine nuts, pressing them into the cookie, flattening them slightly.
  6. Bake  14 minutes. (If you bake them longer, the cookies will go from chewy to crispy). Let cool completely.


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4 Responses to “Pignoli”

  1. Elaine
    December 12, 2014 at 8:55 am #

    Buona Mattina! Do you think this recipe could be doubled — I have a 14-cup Cuisinart food processor, so I am pretty sure it could handle the capacity. Also, when you specify a teaspoon to form the cookies, do you mean a measuring teaspoon or a flatware teaspoon? I realize recipes are normally referring to a measuring spoon, but that seems like the cookies would be a little small? (OCD a bit? When it comes to cooking, yes I am! 🙂 ). Thank you!

    • Catherine
      December 14, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

      Happy Holidays!

      Yes, I’m certain your food processor can handle twice the almond paste, so go ahead and double the recipe. As for the teaspoon, I was referring to a regular teaspoon not a measuring spoon. Because the dough is soft and sticky, (not very conducive to rolling into balls with your hands) the spoon helps form the cookie. You can make them any size you like, but a heaping spoonful will make medium-size cookies.


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