Pinocchio and the pinoli biscuit

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Toothbrush tree 004I’ve always loved Pinocchio. I mean the puppet, his clothes, his wooden schoes and his hat (which was originaly made of bread) but I have to confess I have never achieved to finish the book from the beginning up to the end. But why Pinocchio, a fictional character and the protagonist of the children’s novel (Carlo Collodi: The Adventures of Pinocchio, 1883) has become a cult figure and even a name of a cake and biscuit? I tried to track down…

Pignoli biscuit-Jesus versus Pinocchio

Carved by a woodcarver, named Geppetto (Jesus) in a small Italian village, Pinocchio was created as a wooden puppet, but dreamed of becoming a real boy. That’s the story in a nutshell of the book of Carlo Collodi but why has Pinocchio become an icon of modern culture, and one of the most reimagined characters in the Pantheon of children’s literature? Because of he is known for having a short nose that becomes longer when he is under stress, especially while lying and children do tell lies quite often don’t they? or because he takes after some epic heroes who like other Western literacy heroes, such as Gilgamesh and Odysseus, descends into hell? Maybe! Because Pinocchio also experiences rebirth through metamorphosis, a motif found in fantasy or speculative literatures. In his course of his exciting adventures he goes through a lot of suffering before he reaches his purpose and becomes a real boy-no wonder that some critics and philosophers tend to compare him to even Jesus!-. But why he has become a favorite Christmas delicacy? I’ll tell you right away. The keyword is its Italian name pinocchio which corresponds to the English word: pine nuts. And yes, the main ingredients of the pignoli biscuits are beside of the almond the pine nuts. Christmas cookies are the crown jewels of Italian confections. There is no holiday go by without baking these traditional pinocchio-pine nut inspired almond cookies rolled in mild pine nuts crumbs.

pignoliPignoli or Pinocchio biscuit

Ingredients yield: 2-1/2 dozen

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups pine nuts (more/less depending on whether you roll or top the cookies with them)

1 tbsp fennel seeds

1-1/4 cups (12 ounces) almond paste

1/2 cup sugar

4 egg whites, divided

pinch of salt

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Toothbrush tree 019Directions:

In a small bowl, beat almond paste and sugar until crumbly. Beat in 2 egg whites. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar; mix well.

Whisk remaining egg whites in a shallow bowl. Place pine nuts in another shallow bowl. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in egg whites and coat with pine nuts.

Place 2 inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Flatten slightly. Bake at 325° F until cookies are lightly golden brown, roughly 18-22 minutes,rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Cool for 1 minute before removing from pans to wire racks. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. (Alternatively, set the dough ball onto the baking sheet and press pine nuts over just the top and sides). You can serve the biscuit with vanilla ice cream or marzipan!
pignoli cookies (8)

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