Ever since I could eat solid food I have been memorized and delighted by Italian pastries and cookies. Every now and then my fireman and I get in the car and head to Jersey City, and we make two stops from my childhood. 2nd Street Bakery for the most amazing Pepperoni Bread, and a pepper and egg sandwich that can only be described as, sorry, but orgasmic, and if you have ever had the spicy sausage and eggs on their amazing brick oven Italian bread you will know what I mean. The second stop is for the Rum cake, and pastries at Monteleone’s. This rum cake is the same rum cake from my youth and they make the best authentic Italian rum cake! This amazing work of pastry art, gets better as each day passes. Once we had this thing a week after we bought it and I promise you it was to die for. It tasted fresher and more intense as the days passed, and I am not ashamed to say I had a piece each day, until it was gone. In addition to the glorious rum cake, we grab some cannolis, Italian butter cookies, sfogliatella, (the pastries that are shell shaped) and of course Pignoli Nut cookies. I know it is indulgent, and so bad for the waistline, but it is a cherished ritual from my childhood and I get nostalgic. Besides, there aren’t too many authentic, old school Italian bakeries in my neck of the woods, and when I taste an inferior knock off, I get sad.
Pignoli Nut cookies are a cherished cookie from my childhood and one I make each Christmas. The recipe I have that my Mom used, calls for almond paste. I made it this way every year. However, when I went to make it this year, I realized I didn’t have any almond paste left, since I used it for my Italian Rainbow Cookies, oh add that one to cookies from Monteleone’s that I love, so I thought if I use almond flour which is now my low carb friend, instead of the almond paste, it would be just fine. To be sure it would work, I scanned the internet and came across this recipe for almond paste using, you guessed it, almond flour and some good old powdered sugar. I didn’t actually make the paste the way the recipe called for because with the ingredients I was using to make the pignoli nut cookies, I didn’t feel that step was necessary, but if you are using the almond paste for any other recipe I would urge you to use the guidelines in the recipe linked below! Please check out this website with an adorable name, https://theseasidebaker.com/how-to-make-homemade-almond-paste/ to make almond paste if you need it for any other use, as it is what I believe, the perfect healthy hack.
I am including this recipe for my Mom’s Pignoli Nut cookies, which is a pretty standard recipe, only now it becomes a true game changer, because now my friends, you can sub out the almond paste and use almond flour, and the results are negligible and in fact, I think they made the cookies better, as they were light, airy, and less dense in my opinion. I think any time you can avoid processed products the better off you are. Almond flour is a blessing to any one who wants to avoid gluten, or carbs as it is a baker’s and dieter’s dream, with the versatility it offers!
I urge you to give this recipe a try using the almond flour, as I truly believe that it is the perfect healthy hack and makes a far better cookie!
Happy Holidays to you all from my home to yours!
Mama's Italian Pignoli Nut Cookies
A better version of an Italian classic, that's quick, easy, and oh so stinking good!
- You can double the recipe if you need to. I made two dozen because I have a bakery shop in my kitchen right now! Also, this recipe is not carb free! Almond flour by itself is low in carbs!
- 1 cup of almond flour
- 1/4 cup of unbleached flour
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar, some extra about two tablespoons for lightly dusting cooled cookies if desired
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 cup of pignoli nuts (pine nuts)
- 1 tsp. of almond extract
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 300°. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer, combine almond flour, flour, sugars, mix well to combine. Add in almond extract, salt and egg whites. Mix well to combine ingredients.
- Place pignoli nuts in a small bowl, take small rounded scoops, about a tablespoon and roll in pignoli nuts, place on baking sheet, flatten, and fill in any bare spots by pressing in nuts. Bake for 20-25 minutes, do not over bake. Transfer to wire rack to cool. When cooled, dust lightly with powdered sugar using a mesh strainer. Store in covered container for up to two weeks. These are perfect dipped in espresso or coffee. Mangia!
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