My (one and only) new year’s resolution is to cook more. That might sound a bit strange but I am a much better baker than cook. Since the Officer won’t settle on sugar for dinner, I decided 2010 should be the year of savory…well at least once a week. In celebration of my new goal, my friend Kristen invited me to an Italian cooking class at the home of her mom’s friend, Joyce. Joyce is Italian through and through and has a fantastic reputation for cooking delicious Italian dishes. On the menu was classic Italian stromboli and Italian cookies called Pignoli Cookies.
Joyce was ready for us when we arrived. The ingredients were purchased and many of them were even prepped. It was obvious she had done this a few times before. I was amazed at the detail and preparation. I was thankful to be a part of such an extra special meal. I was so intrigued by her. I started asking questions. Then the next interaction made me realize my resolution was long overdue. It went something like this-
Me: Joyce, how many nights a week do you make dinner like this?
Joyce: Oh honey, I’ve cooked every night for the last 38 years. What do you eat when you don’t cook dinner?
The thought that never came out of my mouth: Cereal.
That’s when I knew I was in the right place…no more cereal for dinner in 2010.
We learned how to make four different varieties of stromboli and then we moved on to the cookies. I was not familiar with Pignoli cookies, but they are simple to make and very delicious. Pignoli is the Italian word for pine nut. This cookie is a special Italian confection. The main ingredients are almond paste and pine nuts. Both were available at my local grocery store. The almond is a strong component of these cookies but is balanced nicely by the sugar, flour and eggs. Once the ingredients are mixed, the dough will not be very thick but will hold its form once it is rolled in the pine nuts. The cookies are best when they are still chewy inside and even more delicious when they are still warm. They are perfect for Italian occasions and add a nice bit of variety to your traditional cookie plate. When I made these at home, I had a few extra pecans in my kitchen, so I rolled a few of the cookies in pecans too. Both varieties of cookies were quite tasty. Thanks Joyce for sharing your fantastic cooking gifts!
And you will be happy to know I have already cooked dinner once this week!
- adapted from Joyce’s Italian kitchen (a friend of a friend)
makes 30-36 cookies
- 8 oz. almond paste
- 2 egg whites, slightly beaten
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup pine nuts
In a small bowl, using an electric mixer break up almond paste. On low to medium speed, beat in egg whites until mostly smooth.
In a separate bowl, sift together confectioner’s sugar and granulated sugar. Beat into almond mixture. Then add flour and salt and mix until well combined.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place pine nuts in a shallow bowl.
Using parchment paper, cover a cookie sheet. With wet fingers (this prevents the dough from sticking to your hands), roll dough into small balls, about 3/4 inch in diameter. Then roll the top and sides of the balls in the pine nuts. Place balls on a cookie sheet about 1 inch apart.
Bake for 17-19 minutes. Do not brown. Cookies should be pale on top and barely brown on the bottom. The centers should be soft.