Variations on Rosetta Costantino’s 3-Ingredient Cookie

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Reorganizing my busting-to-the-seams freezer revealed one thing. I’ve been squirreling away nuts like it’s the doomsday vault.

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One immediate solution was to try variations of Rosetta Costantino’s 3-ingredient walnut cookie (Dolci di Noci) from her marvelous book Southern Italian Desserts. She and I had previously discussed, “How do you think it would be with ______ nut?” It was time to find out.

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I had hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts. And, I had pistachios and almonds in the form of nut flour/meal (ground nuts used like flour). The challenge was that each nut type had differing amounts of natural oil, with walnuts and pecans having the most. How would that affect baking time and the amount of eggs needed? And would the nut flours work just as well as the whole nuts that the recipe instructs you to grind, anyway? (Yes, they do!)

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These cookies are made of only nuts, sugar and egg.  That’s right! Gluten and dairy free. Since nuts are the primary ingredient, whichever one you use is the flavor that really stands out. And baking brings out even more flavor. Surprisingly, one exception is almonds. Oddly enough, I think they could benefit from a boost of 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract.

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What my delicious experiment taught me is that Rosetta’s walnut cookie recipe works well with many kinds of nuts. But since some nuts are naturally dryer, I needed to add an extra egg white to some variations. Another notable difference between my variation and Rosetta’s is that I refrigerate my dough for 30 minutes and use a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop to quickly prepare them for the baking sheet. Refrigeration keeps the shape largely intact once baked. If you don’t refrigerate the dough, let it sit for 30 minutes, any way, so that the eggs will thoroughly moisten the dough.

Variations on Rosetta Costantino’s 3-Ingredient Walnut Cookie

  • Servings: 30-34 cookies
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups nuts (or three cups nut flour, spooned and leveled), or 285 grams
  • 1 whole large egg* for walnut and pecan variations. Or, 1 whole large egg plus an egg white for almond, hazelnut and pistachio variations
  • 1 cup regular granulated sugar
  • If making the almond variation, add 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract (optional)

Directions

Using Nuts (not nut flour)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375F (190C)
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper
  3. Place nuts and sugar in a food processor. Pulse until very finely ground, but stop before a paste forms
  4. Place nut/sugar mixture in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center
  5. Beat egg (plus extra egg white for almond, hazelnut and pistachio versions) and pour egg(s) in the well of the bowl with the ground nuts and sugar
  6. Mix as much as you can with a fork or spoon, then shift to using your hands to completely mix and bring the dough together. You should end up with a cohesive ball.*
  7. Either refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to keep the baked cookie shape intact, or let the dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to ensure the eggs have thoroughly moistened the nut/sugar mixture.
  8. Using a 1 ½-inch ice cream scoop, or two spoons, place balls of dough approximately 1-inch apart on baking sheet
  9. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Cookies should be lightly browned around the base edges and slightly golden all over. These bake at a higher temperature than regular cookies, which makes for a crisp exterior, and a chewy interior. They will continue to bake once you take them out of the oven. Let cool completely.

Using Nut Flour/Meal

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375F (190C)
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper
  3. Place nut flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center
  4. Beat egg (plus extra egg white for almond, hazelnut and pistachio versions) and pour egg(s) in the well of the bowl with the ground nuts and sugar
  5. Mix as much as you can with a fork or spoon, then shift to using your hands to completely mix and bring the dough together. You should end up with a cohesive ball.*
  6. Either refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to keep the baked cookie shape intact, or let the dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to ensure the eggs have thoroughly moistened the nut/sugar mixture.
  7. Using a 1 ½-inch ice cream scoop, or two spoons, place balls of dough approximately 1-inch apart on baking sheet
  8. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Cookies should be lightly browned around the base edges and slightly golden all over. These bake at a higher temperature than regular cookies, which makes for a crisp exterior, and a chewy interior. They will continue to bake once you take them out of the oven. Let cool completely.

*The age and type of nut will affect how the dough comes together. If you find that the dough is still crumbly and not forming a cohesive ball after mixing with your hands, beat an egg white with a fork and mix it into the dough. Letting the dough rest for 30 minutes will also allow the eggs to moisten the nut/sugar mixture. 

Author: gregnelsoncooks

Visit weekly for original and adapted recipes as well as cooking tips to make your kitchen life easier — and more delicious! I’ll include simple, straight forward instructions along with recipes that are truly worth your time making. And, recipes that elevate the familiar and introduce you to the new and unexpected.

4 thoughts

  1. These look wonderful! And I’m always on the lookout for gluten-free goodies. Would it completely ruin them if I substituted the white sugar with brown sugar or coconut sugar?

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    1. Good question. I think brown sugar would work fine. However make sure the dough is thoroughly chilled first. Perhaps give it a good hour. Brown sugar tends to spread more than white sugar when baking. I’ve never worked with coconut sugar so I can’t comment on how that would work. But maybe try a half of a batch and see how it goes. Please let me know!

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