Italian Desserts

Pignoli Cookies (Biscotti ai Pinoli)

January 12, 2021 by Emily

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure.

Delicious Pignoli Cookies (Biscotti ai Pinoli) made with ground almonds, egg whites, and crunchy pine nuts. These cookies are soft and chewy on the inside with a crispy and crunchy outside, so delicious and easy to whip up using a food processor!

Pignoli cookies on a wooden surface dusted with powdered sugar

Pignoli cookies are a classic Italian-American cookie flavoured with almond and citrus zest and topped with crunchy and delicious pine nuts.

They’re not something I’d come across until recently but I instantly knew I’d love them because the dough is almost identical to Ricciarelli (Italian almond cookies from Siena) which are my absolute favourite Italian Christmas cookies.

Although most recipes use almond paste it’s not something I’ve ever come across so I use ground almonds which makes the most delicious tasting cookies!

Whip these up whenever you want a sweet treat and definitely add them to your holiday baking list they are SO good!

Ingredients – what you need

Pignoli cookies are naturally gluten-free because they are made with ground almonds instead of flour. Make sure to buy ground almonds without the skins, it should be light in colour (see the photo below).

You’ll also need granulated sugar, powdered sugar (icing sugar UK), large egg whites, almond extract, lemon zest, and of course pine nuts.

See the photo below that shows all the ingredients you need!

An overhead shot of all the ingredients you need to make Pignoli cookies

Step by step recipe instructions

Put the ground almonds, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt in a food processor and pulse a few times until just combined (photos 1 & 2).

Step by step photos showing how to blitz cookie batter in a food processor

Add the egg whites, lemon zest and almond extract, and blitz everything together until thoroughly combined (photos 3 & 4).

Using wet hands roll the dough into 1 tbsp balls around 1.5 inches in size. Drop each ball into the bowl of pine nuts so one side is completely covered then place on the baking tray (photos 5 – 9).

Step by step photos showing how to roll and shape Pignoli cookies
Step by step photos showing Pignoli cookies before and after baking

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until slightly golden around the edges. Let them cool completely then dust in extra powdered sugar (photo 10 – 12).

Top tips and recipe FAQs

  • Shaping the cookies – Make sure to roll the dough with wet hands, it’s a sticky dough and will just stick to your hands otherwise. You’ll need to wet your hands a couple of times as you’re shaping them.
  • Size of the cookies – some tablespoon-sized cookie scoops are actually much larger than one tablespoon. The balls should be around 1.5 inches in size and make medium sized cookies once baked.
  • Flavour variations – you can opt for orange zest instead of lemon and choose different extracts to flavour your cookies.
  • Make a double batch – you can double the ingredients to make more cookies.
How long do they last?

The cookies are at their best on the same day of baking but can be stored in a airtight container for a couple of days with good results.

Can they be frozen?

Yes, because these cookies dry out quickly I recommend freezing them if they won’t be eaten within 1-2 days. Thaw completely before serving you can also warm them up in a hot oven to crisp up slightly.

A close up of an Italian cookie with pine nuts

More Italian sweet treats you might like

If you’ve tried these Pignoli Cookies or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.

Step By Step Photos AboveMost of our recipes come with step by step photos, helpful tips and tricks to make it perfectly first time and even video!

Pignoli Cookies (Biscotti ai Pinoli)

Delicious Pignoli Cookies (Biscotti ai Pinoli) made with ground almonds, egg whites, and crunchy pine nuts. These cookies are soft and chewy on the inside with a crispy and crunchy outside, so delicious and easy to whip up using a food processor!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 10 cookies
Calories 240kcal
Author Emily Kemp

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ground almonds (200g)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (100g)
  • ½ cup powdered sugar (icing sugar UK) (65g) plus extra for dusting
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • ½ cup pine nuts (50g)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  • Put the ground almonds (2 cups/200g), granulated sugar (½ cup/100g), powdered sugar (½ cup/65g) and a pinch of salt in a food processor and pulse a few times until just combined.
  • Add the egg whites (3 large), lemon zest and almond extract (1 tsp) and blitz everything together until thoroughly combined.
  • Put the pine nuts (½ cup/50g) into a clean bowl. Using wet hands roll the dough into 1 tbsp balls around 1.5 inch in size. Drop each ball into the bowl of pine nuts so one side is completely covered then place on the baking tray.
  • Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until slightly golden around the edges. Let them cool completely then dust in extra powdered sugar.

Notes

  • Shaping the cookies – Make sure to roll the dough with wet hands, it’s a sticky dough and will just stick to your hands otherwise. You’ll need to wet your hands a couple of times as you’re shaping them.
  • Size of the cookies – some tablespoon-sized cookie scoops are actually much larger than one tablespoon. The balls should be around 1.5 inches in size and make medium sized cookies once baked.
  • Flavour variations – you can opt for orange zest instead of lemon and choose different extracts to flavour your cookies.
  • Make a double batch – you can double the ingredients to make more cookies.
  • Storage – These cookies are best eaten within 2 days as they dry out quickly but can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week or can be frozen.

Nutrition

Calories: 240kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 132mg | Potassium: 55mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 17g | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 1mg
Helpful Info for All Recipes
  • I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
  • When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use this brand for the best results and flavour
  • All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
  • All recipes are tested and developed using a fan (convection) oven
  • Find out more about how nutrition is calculated here
  • Check out our must have Italian Pantry Staples here
  • You can also find all our Essential Kitchen Tools for Italian Cooking here
Did you try this recipe?Mention @insidetherustickitchen or tag #insidetherustickitchen! We’d love you see what you’re getting up to in the kitchen!

Newsletter

2 Comments

  • Reply
    Tony Devito
    January 12, 2021 at 10:20 pm

    Can I use almond flour instead of ground almonds ?

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      January 12, 2021 at 11:00 pm

      Hi Tony, sometimes ground almonds can be labelled almond flour so if the texture is coarse it’ll be fine but if the consistency is relatively close to regular flour (very fine) I think the cookies would be too dry because a lot of the fat is extracted from the almonds. I’ve never actually tried almond flour with this particular recipe I’m just speaking from previous experience baking with it.

    Leave a Reply

    Recipe Rating




    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
    shares