Italian Pine Nut Cookies (Biscotti ai pinoli)

Yes, Biscotti ai pinoli.  These lovely, puffy, plump crispy-chewy pine nut cookies came about today, when I decided to use up the last of my homemade almond paste.  So I leafed through some cookbooks, got some ideas and developed this quick and easy recipe.  I’m very fond of pine nuts, and will admit that I can eat them by the handful.  The fresh, aromatic taste brings back memories of summer in Italy, when I was a child.  Sometimes, my parents would spend a couple of weeks in the pretty beach town of Silvi Marina, in Abruzzo, a quaint , sunny village spilling out on the Adriatic Sea, on the Eastern coast of Italy.  After sweltering mornings spent on the long, golden-sand beach, we would go home for lunch, then take a pisolino (a brief afternoon nap mandated by my father).  After, in the early evening, we would travel around the area, often ending up in the cool pineta, a little park by the shore, shaded and perfumed by imposing pine trees. On the ground below the pines, hundreds of pine cones dotted the grass, and we children had a feast picking them up and removing the tender, fragrant pine nuts, oval-shaped and ripe, and eating them just like that.  Oh, what a wonderful Pesto would those pinolimake…Here is the recipe for my cookies: I can feel the balmy breeze of my summery once-upon-a-time…

2 cups ground almonds

1 ½ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

6 oz almond paste (I use homemade)

3 egg whites

½ cup pine nuts (pinoli)

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.picture

Have ready two cookie sheets, lined with parchment.

In a bowl, mix together all ingredients, except the pine nuts.

Mix by hand to obtain a fairly firm dough.  It will be sticky, so keep some confectioners’ sugar on hand to dust on dough occasionally.

Break little pieces of the dough, roll in your hands into little balls, about 1 1/2 –inch  each.  Arrange them on the cookie sheets, about 1 ½ inches apart.  Take some pine nuts and press a generous amount on each cookie.  Press down to flatten cookies.

Bake 30 minutes, until they look firm, puffy and slightly browned.  Center should still be soft.

These cookies are chewy, with a crisp crust.

Makes about 35 cookies.