As much as I enjoy cooking and baking, you can only imagine how excited I was to find out that the son of one of my good friends was going to school to become a pastry chef!
Over the years, I had noticed Ket’s interest in baking and cooking when he and his family would join us for dinner at my house. I noticed he might be looking over my shoulder asking questions and talking food. He liked to peek in at my cookbook collection too. I have also had the pleasure of eating a few slices of his famous cheesecakes!
Not long ago I gave him an open invitation to come to my kitchen and bake with me. Well, Ket has now graduated and I was more than happy when he asked if I’d like to bake some Italian cookies together. He chose Pignolis–a cookie neither of us had ever baked before. Perfect.
Allow me to start by saying, almond paste and pine nuts are expensive. Shop around for a good deal. We opted to split the cost of a 7 pound can of almond paste from Cash and Carry. We have enough almond paste leftover to make plenty more desserts. Pine nuts were purchased at Costco.
It wasn’t easy removing the almond paste–at first. We discovered that using an ice cream scoop made it a lot easier.
The recipe says to use almond paste broken into pebble sized pieces. Good thing Ket was helping because my great idea was to use my KitchenAid mixer, but he suggested using the food processor and adding the sugars to it. It worked like a charm.
Pignoli Amaretti Cookies (Pine Nut Cookies)
Adapted from Sweet Maria’s Italian Cookie Tray
1 1/2 lbs almond paste (broken into pebble sized pieces)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
4 egg whites
2 cups pine nuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine almond paste with sugars in food processor and pulse till size of pebbles.
Add mixture to mixer and add egg whites, mix on low till blended, then medium speed for a few minutes. This will make a sticky dough.
Roll dough into 1″ balls. Roll in pine nuts, or roll tops and sides in pine nuts. Place on lined (parchment or silicon) cookie sheet 2″ apart. Using your fingers, slightly flatten tops of cookies.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or till golden brown. Remove cookie sheets from oven. Allow cookies to cool on parchment for easier removal. When cookies are cool use a metal spatula to loosen from parchment.
Store in an airtight container.
Approx 50 cookies
We shaped some into balls and some into crescents–I happen to be addicted to the crescent shape.
I highly suggest using the silicon mats or parchment–these are sticky little buggers!
Wet your hands with water while forming the cookies–it really helps!
We made two batches– close to 100 cookies!
Pignolis have a moist center and a wonderful almond flavor. Perfect with coffee and tea or a glass of milk.
After baking, Ket helped me dig potatoes from the garden. We had a lovely dinner of roasted chicken, chicken with vinegar and onions, and swiss chard from the gardens, and mashed pototoes–albeit the mashed taters were farmed out to my husband who lost track of the timer–no worries, we had enough to feed a small army.