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Full Moon Cookies
Classic Italian Pignoli cookies are tasty little almond-flavored full moons.
A few moons ago I came across a recipe for Italian Pignoli cookies and accidentally fell down a recipe rabbit hole. It occurred to me that these almond paste cookies rolled in pine nuts looked like tasty little moons, so I decided to make them on a full moon to celebrate.
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My first attempt was delicious, but the process was very messy. I’ve made these a few times since, adjusting my recipe and technique to suit my needs. In fact: I’m sitting here now waiting for a fresh batch to cool as I type this. They smell so gooooood.
These days, I’m noticing that my rituals look less like what I thought spirituality is “supposed” to look like, and more like a collection of mundane practices that bring me into my body. I haven’t made these at every full moon, but I missed them when I didn’t.
The recipe below is an adaptation & combination of two other recipes: DIY Almond Paste Recipe by King Arthur Flour and Pignoli Cookies by The Kitchn. If you want to use store-bought almond paste, I’d recommend going with The Kitchn’s recipe to start.
Personally, I wanted an easy recipe that allowed me to make the almond paste myself because that shit is expensive. I reduced the sugar, upped the almond extract, used waaaay more almond paste than called for in the original cookie recipe, and adjusted the prep technique. The result is pretty damn delicious, if I do say so myself.
If you make these, I hope you’ll tell me how they turn out!
Heads-up: You’ll need a food processor to make these tasty little moons.
A note about notes: See notes below recipe if you bake using a countertop oven (such as a combination convection/toaster oven).
Pignoli Cookies made with Homemade Almond Paste
by Sara Galactica
Prep time: 15-20 minutes || Bake time: 12-17 minutes || Makes: 12-14 cookies
1 1/2 - 2 cups (168 g) superfine almond flour
1 cup (90 g) powdered sugar
1 large egg white
1/8 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp almond extract
In the bowl of a food processor, combine almond flour and powdered sugar and pulse until just combined.
Add egg white, kosher salt, and almond extract, and process until the mixture comes together into a ball.
If you’re making cookies right away (and why wouldn’t you be?), leave the mixture in the bowl of the food processor and follow the recipe below.
If you’re making cookies later, scrape the paste out and plop onto the center of a large piece of plastic wrap. This stuff is sticky, so I find it easiest to use the plastic wrap to help me form the paste into a log or round. Once formed, double-wrap it in plastic and keep in the fridge until ready to use. Tightly wrapped, the paste will keep in the fridge for up to a month, and the freezer for up to 3 months (according to King Arthur flour— I’ve never wanted to wait that long!). If you freeze it, make sure to defrost completely in the refrigerator before you use the stuff.
Almond paste (above)
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c powdered sugar
1 large egg white
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (8 oz) pine nuts
Arrange a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.*
If you’ve just made the almond paste and have it in the bowl of your food processor, add the granulated sugar, powdered sugar, egg white, and salt to the party. Process that shit until it’s smooth (15-20 seconds or so).
If you made your paste ahead, crumble it into the food processor, add granulated and powdered sugars, and pulse until crumbly. Then add egg white and salt and process until smooth (about 20 seconds).
Place pine nuts on a large plate, making sure the surface of the plate is covered fairly evenly. Divide the dough into 12-14 portions (about a heaping tablespoon each) and drop them onto the pine nuts. You can do this one at a time, or in batches, but remember: the less you have to handle this very sticky dough, the better! Coat each portion in pine nuts and gently roll with your hands to form into a ball. Place dough balls on parchment lined baking sheet at least 1 inch apart.
Briefly chill the cookies on the baking sheet in the fridge (10-15 minutes) or freezer (up to 5 minutes).** This step isn’t strictly necessary, but I prefer how they turn out when the dough has an opportunity to chill.
Bake until the edges appear to be firm and the pine nuts are golden brown, 14-17 minutes.* Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
*Note 1: If you’re like me and have an oven that is unreliable in the baking department (::shakes fist at Kitchen Aid::) or you rely on a countertop convection/toaster oven contraption, using a half sheet pan is just fine.
**Note 2: If you’re using a half-sheet, I recommend chilling the first batch on the sheet in the freezer, and the second batch in the fridge on the plate you used to add the pine nuts. The second batch can hang out in the fridge while the first bakes, and then you can pop ‘em onto the sheet once it’s cool and bake away.
***Note 3: If you’re using a toaster oven, you may find that you need to adjust the baking time. 12-13 minutes was the sweet spot for me.