The recipe for naturally sweetened pine nut cookies is a treat worth smiling over

The recipe for naturally sweetened pine nut cookies is a treat worth smiling over

Pignoli cookies

Active Time:30 minutes

Total time:2 hours 30 minutes

Portions:16 to 20 (for 32 to 40 cookies)

Active Time:30 minutes

Total time:2 hours 30 minutes

Portions:16 to 20 (for 32 to 40 cookies)


I only recently got to know Brian Levy, but he’s already my hero. Levy, a classically trained pastry chef, wrote a cookbook chock-full of tantalizing baked goods using no added sugars — no white, brown, raw, or coconut sugars — not even a drop of molasses, honey, or maple syrup.

Instead, he infuses his desserts with inherently sweet whole-food ingredients, primarily fresh and dried fruits. Yes, fruit contains sugars, which become concentrated when the fruit is dried, but because that sugar is naturally “packed” with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, using fruit in its unrefined form is a more nutritious way to sweet taste, with a softer effect on blood sugar.

I know firsthand how challenging it can be to make fruit-sweetened recipes, which is why I’m awarding Levy the hero cape. You have to ditch the tried and true formulas for the usual baked goods and basically start from scratch, testing and retesting recipes to get the texture and flavor just right. He clearly did the job as every recipe I tried in his book, Good & Sweet: a new way to bake with naturally sweet ingredients”, worked seamlessly.

These easy-to-make treats are proof. Made with almond flour and sweetened with a combination of dates, apricots and raisins, they are chewy and delicately sweet, with a crunchy, buttery coating of toasted pine nuts. Levy calls them cookies, because they’re inspired by his favorite Italian pignoli cookies from the then-legendary Manhattan bakery from Venice, but to me, because they’re so subtly sweet and fruit-flavored, they read more like an extra special “energy snack.” Whatever you call them, they’re a laughable treat to enjoy with a cup of tea or espresso in the afternoon, and a batch of them wrapped in a ribbon-tied box would surely delight a Valentine who’s already sweet enough without it. added sugar.

Note: For more information on baking with no added sugar, listen to my interview with Brian Levy on my podcast One Real Good Thing.

Make Ahead: The cookie paste can be prepared for 1 to 2 hours and kept in the refrigerator to make it easier to roll the cookies.

Storage: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

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  • 1 cup (85 grams) almond flour
  • Pinch of fine salt
  • 75 grams pitted and halved Medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup (75 grams) halved unsulphured dried Turkish apricots
  • 1/2 cup (75 grams) golden raisins, preferably Hunza
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (215 grams) raw, unsalted pine nuts

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 300 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, dates, apricots, and raisins and pulse until the fruit is broken down and the mixture resembles moist breadcrumbs. Add the egg white and almond extract and process until the mixture turns into a very smooth, homogeneous and sticky paste, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the paste to a bowl. You can proceed directly to the next step or, for easier shaping with a less sticky paste, cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Place the pine nuts in a small bowl. Place a bowl filled with cold water near your workspace. Dip your fingers in the water before shaping the cookies; it will help prevent the paste from sticking to your hands. Using a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon of the mixture, form small balls (8 to 9 grams each), then roll each ball in the pine nuts, pressing each ball firmly into the nuts to ensure they adhere to each piece of pasta. (If there is a pasta surface larger than a pine nut, stuff it with a pine nut.) Repeat with the remaining pasta and pine nuts.

Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet and press with your finger to flatten them slightly (you should be able to fit all the cookies on one sheet) and bake for 20 to 30 minutes (start checking after 20 minutes). , or until the pine nuts begin to turn light golden brown. Turn off the oven, prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon and let the cookies dry in the oven for 1 1/2 hours before taking them out to cool completely. Serve right away or transfer to an airtight container and store until ready to use.

Per serving (2 cookies), based on 20

Calories: 137; Total fat: 10 g; Saturated fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 18mg; Carbohydrates: 11g; Dietary fiber: 2 g; Sugar: 7g; Protein: 3g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietician or nutritionist.

Edited by cookbook author and registered dietitian nutritionist Ellie Krieger from “Good & Sweet” by Brian Levy (Avery, 2022).

Tested by Anna Rodriguez; email questions to [email protected].

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