Pignoli Cookies with an Oregon Twist
I found a pignoli cookie recipe in A Kitchen Takes Root which is a great blog with inspiring recipes emphasizing local ingredients. I thought it would be interesting to make three versions of this cookie using different combinations of nuts.
My first version used hazelnuts to give the recipe an Oregon twist. I followed the recipe exactly, just substituting Freddy Guys dry roasted hazelnuts for both the almonds and the pine nuts. They turned out delicious, very light and airy. This was my favorite version with all that great hazelnut flavor.
Homemade hazelnut extract instead of almond extract would also be good to try the next time I bake this cookie.
In my next version, I used Barbee Orchards almonds from Zilla, Washington for the batter and Freddy Guys dry roasted hazelnuts for the coating. I was surprised and delighted to find almonds being grown in Washington! It was very easy to blanch and remove the skins from the almonds before processing them. I like the almond and hazelnut combination very much, but preferred the all hazelnut one.
If you are looking for other hazelnut recipes, I would recommend the new Oregon Hazelnut Country cookbook by Oregon food columnist and cookbook author Jan Roberts-Dominguez.
My third version followed the recipe and I used pignoli nuts (pine nuts) from PineNut/Goods From The Woods which are harvested in Nevada or Utah. It was great to find pine nuts from a nearby state rather than a distant country! You can also take a fall road trip to the Great Basin and harvest your own pine nuts. The Barbee Orchards almonds were used for the batter as above. These pignoli cookies turned out great using the locally sourced, traditional ingredients.
I came across several discussions and warnings about pine mouth while looking into pine nuts. It sounds pretty awful. One more reason to buy pine nuts from US sources!