These traditional Italian cookies get their richness and flavor from slivered almonds, pine nuts, and sugar.
MAKES about 18 cookies
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS With an appealingly light texture from egg whites (no yolks) and a nutty flavor profile, the classic southern Italian cookies known as pignoli require only a few ingredients and are simple to make. For the base, most recipes we found relied on almond paste, but we achieved a deeper, richer almond flavor and more controlled sweetness by simply processing slivered almonds with granulated sugar. Some recipes include lemon or orange zest, but we found that these additions were more a distraction than an asset. Our base was a little sticky, but it was still easy enough to roll into balls, then coat in pine nuts for the traditional finish to this after-dinner cookie. There was no need to toast the pine nuts ahead of time since they toasted as the cookies baked.
1⅔ cups slivered almonds
1⅓ cups (9⅓ ounces) sugar
2 large egg whites
1 cup pine nuts
1. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Process almonds and sugar in food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl and add egg whites. Continue to process until smooth (dough will be wet), about 30 seconds; transfer mixture to bowl. Place pine nuts in shallow dish.
3. Working with 1 scant tablespoon dough at a time, roll into balls, roll in pine nuts to coat, and space 2 inches apart on prepared sheets.
4. Bake cookies until light golden brown, 13 to 15 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Let cookies cool to room temperature before serving. (Cookies can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.)