It’s funny the things that stick with you. When my kids and I were in New York a bit ago, one of the welcoming/greeting things the Hotel Evelyn had was a little box of cookies. My son opened the box and saw a pignoli (pine nut) cookie and exclaimed, “look! A little piece of home!”
Clearly, I use pine nuts pretty often. Recently, I wanted to do something nice for him and thought back on the comment.
Two provisos before we bake some cookies: 1) I use a kitchen scale and measure in grams when I make a new pastry of any kind. It can make all the difference in the success or failure of a recipe. I’ll slack off later if I get a feel for it. 2) Most pignoli cookie recipes start with almond paste, which I don’t typically have around the house. In essence, this dough recipe includes all the ingredients in an almond paste.
2 1/3 cups (231 grams) blanched almond flour
1 1/4 cups (136 grams) powdered sugar (sifted if lumpy and not using a food processor)
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
3 large (32 grams each - 96 grams total) egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 scant cup pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
Mix everything except the nuts and powdered sugar in a food processor fitted with an S-blade or in a large mixing bowl with a large spoon until well combined.
Place the pine nuts in a bowl.
Use a 1.5 tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop and plop it into the pine nuts. The dough will be very sticky but you should be able to get it into the nuts and roll it around on one side without issue. Don’t roll the entire ball in nuts, because if there are nuts on the bottom of the cookie, they may burn before the cookie browns.
You can also plop the dough balls on the cookie sheet and sprinkle 2 teaspoons of pine nuts over each cookie. If you find it too sticky, you can chill it for a few hours or wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer.
Place the cookie, nut side up, on the baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the cookies. Place them about 3” apart.
Bake for 13-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes and then transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Keep in an airtight container for up to a week. They can be frozen, but without the powdered sugar, for a couple of months.
These are a macaroon-like cookie, are naturally gluten-free and great with coffee or tea.
As an aside, we loved The Evelyn and would recommend it to anyone looking to stay in Manhattan. “A little piece of home.”