These 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
- Using a food processor, break up the almond paste into its bowl, pulse until it’s small uniform crumbs.
- Add the sugar and salt, pulse until mixture resembles course sand.
- Add egg white and lemon zest, pulse for 15 seconds to make a smooth, soft dough.
- Transfer dough to a small bowl, cover and chill for 30 minutes.
- 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.
- Bake 14 minutes. (If you bake them longer, the cookies will go from chewy to crispy). Let cool completely.