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EatingWell: A twist on traditional Italian holiday cookies

Virginia Willis, EatingWell on

Published in Variety Menu

This crispy-on-the-bottom-and-chewy-on-the-inside gluten-free cookie recipe is a twist on a traditional Italian holiday treat, pignoli, or pine nut cookies. Look for almond paste — a mixture of ground almonds and sugar (available in tubes or sometimes tubs) — near other baking supplies in well-stocked supermarkets or specialty stores. Sweeter marzipan doesn’t work well in these cookies.

Pignoli Cookies

Makes 3 dozen cookies; serves 36

Active Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 1/2 hours

2 (7-ounce) tubes almond paste (not marzipan), coarsely crumbled

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup finely chopped pine nuts, plus 3 tablespoons whole pine nuts for decoration

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large egg whites

2 tablespoons water


1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Beat almond paste, sugar, chopped pine nuts and salt in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until the almond paste is broken up into small bits; continue to blend until finely ground. Add egg whites and water and beat on medium-high speed, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl once or twice, until smooth, about 5 minutes. (The batter will be very thick.)

3. Drop level tablespoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Gently press 5 pine nuts into the top of each cookie in the shape of a star.

4. Bake, rotating the pan front to back halfway through, until golden, 13 to 15 minutes total. Let cool on the pan for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Recipe note: Store in an airtight container between sheets of parchment or wax paper for up to three days.

Recipe nutrition per serving: 72 Calories, Total Fat: 4 g, Saturated Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Fiber: 1 g, Total Sugars: 7 g, Added Sugars: 2 g, Protein: 1 g, Sodium: 36 mg, Potassium: 47 mg, Folate: 9 mcg, Calcium: 19 mg.

Carbohydrate servings: 1/2.


(EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at

©2021 Meredith Corporation. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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