Ultimate Pignoli Cookie

  
Hands down, my favorite cookie.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

10 ounces almond paste

¼ teaspoon salt

2 large egg whites, lightly beaten

¼ teaspoon almond extract

powdered sugar

1/2 cup pine nuts

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line baking sheets.

In a small bowl, mix together granulated sugar, zest, and scraped vanilla seeds.  Use your fingers to works the zest and vanilla into the sugar, creating a fragrant, moist sugar.

Place sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add the almond paste and salt.  Beat on medium speed creating a crumbly sugar and almond mixture.

While almond mixture is combining in the mixer, place two egg whites in a small bowl.  Whisk with a fork until loose and frothy.  This will help in pouring the egg whites into the mixer.

With the mixer on medium speed, gradually pour the egg whites in to the crumbly almond and sugar mixture.  Beat until a smooth paste is formed.  Add the almond extract and beat to combine.

Scoop batter by the heaping tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar.  Using the tips of three of your fingers, make indentations in each cookie. Top with as many pine nuts as you like. 

Bake cookies for 20 to 25 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned on top.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan.  Cookies will last for 5 days if stored in an air tight container.

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