Anna Stellato's Pignoli 40.000

Renee Comet for The Washington Post

Holiday Cookies 2005 Dec 14, 2005

Post staff writer Jo-Ann Armao got this recipe from her grandmother, Anna Stellato, though it took considerable experimentation to get it just right. Her grandmother called them pinules. Use raw pine nuts and store them in the refrigerator or the freezer; otherwise, they can go bad easily. A couple of tips she learned the hard way: use canned almond paste, such as Solo brand, not almond filling or almond paste in a tube (it's too crumbly), and, she says, under no circumstances use marzipan. And refrigerate the dough overnight; skip that step at your own peril.

Servings: 40 cookies
  • 1 can (8 ounces) almond paste
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons pine nuts


Using a stand mixer on low speed, add the almond paste and some of the sugar and mix to break up the chunks of almond paste. Add the remainder of the sugar and mix until blended, then add the egg whites and mix just until the dough is smooth (you want to mix, not pulverize). Shape dough into a ball. It will be moist and sticky. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Have ready 2 rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Roll the dough into balls a little bigger than marbles. Press 6 to 8 pine nuts into each piece. As you do this, slightly flatten the top, but leave the center slightly mounded. Place dough on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake one sheet at a time for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly brown (don't let the cookies get dark brown). Let sit on baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer with a spatula to a rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container with wax paper between layers for about 2 weeks or can be frozen for about 3 months.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from Anna Stellato.

Tested by Marcia Kramer.

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