Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies

A couple of weekends ago I set out to recreate the famous Butterscotch Budino from Pizzeria Mozza. The real deal is delicious and I have wanted to try it at home ever since I first saw the recipe published online. When the Mozza Cookbook came into my life, I knew this recipe was my destiny.

Unfortunately, the quantity of cornstarch in the published recipe is incorrect. As I was measuring the cornstarch, I knew it seemed wrong, but decided to carry on and trust the book. Long story short, I ended up with some puddings that tasted like cornstarch. They were inedible.

It was frustrating, of course, but the team behind the book (who had seen my tweet about the problem) quickly responded with apologies. Mistakes happen, and it was nice to see this one taken so seriously. I didn’t expect anything less. Silverton & Co. take their books very seriously, which is part of why I love them and will continue to cook from them. It was a good lesson for me in trusting my instincts, I knew it didn’t make any sense. (For the record, if you have the book and want to make the budino, the quantity of cornstarch should be 4 tablespoons.)

These Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies that were to accompany the butterscotch puddings were suddenly without a date. Luckily, they they are pretty awesome on their own and were fantastic when they hooked up with that burnt orange ice cream. It is a bit of a project, this recipe. But if you spread it out over a couple of days, you’ll find it is quite easy and the results are pretty impressive.

It is a good example of a recipe that successfully combines sweet and savory elements and a reminder that all’s well that ends well.

Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies (from the Mozza Cookbook)

The Nougatine Topping:

  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mild-flavored honey (clover, wildflower)
  • 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
  • 1 sprig rosemary

In a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan, combine the cream, sugar and honey. Use a small sharp knife to split and scrape the vanilla bean. Smear the scrapings on the butter. Discard the bean or save for another use. Add the butter with the vanilla scrapings to the pan and cook over high heat, stirring once or twice, until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the sifted flour, whisking until smooth. Pour the mixture into a bowl and fold in the pine nuts and sprig of rosemary. Allow to sit for 15 minutes before removing the rosemary spring and transferring the mixture to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

The Dough:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 cup finely ground cornmeal (polenta)


  • 2 heaping tablespoons rosemary tufts

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy, scraping down the bowl as needed, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and salt and mix to incorporate. Add the flour and the polenta, and mix until thoroughly combined. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove the dough from the fridge. Dust a flat surface with flour, cut the dough into chunks, and knead the dough to soften it, until the dough is the texture of Play-Doh. Roll the dough to 1/4-inch thick, adding more flour, if needed. Cut the dough with a 1 1/4 or 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter, keeping the cuts as close together as possible. Lift the rounds onto the parchment, and place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets (gather scraps and reroll once).
Work the nougatine between your fingers, creating a thin disk about the size of a dime for small cookies or a quarter for large cookies. Place the disk of nougatine in the middle of the cookie.  Stick two rosemary tufts on top of the cookie, making sure to pierce the dough so the rosemary doesn’t fall off after baking.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until they are golden brown around the edges and the nougatine has darkened. Remove to racks to cool to room temperature before serving.

Makes between 1 1/2-3 dozen cookies depending on the size of cutter you use.

38 comments to “Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies”

  1. These look divine! I bet a balsamic glaze drizzle would be a great addition to these :)

  2. Well aren’t those gorgeous. Rosemary is my favorite herb, so these are automatically appealing…

    Also: nougatine is a funny word, no?

  3. These sound great! Do you have any sources for pine nuts? They seem to be equal to the cost of gold (or maybe that’s just a Midwest thing?).

  4. Sarah- Nougatine is a funny word, and doesn’t really make that much sense to me.
    Heather- I trade gold for my pine nuts. ; ) They are expensive, and you don’t want to buy them in bulk because they can go rancid. Trader Joe’s sometimes has them reasonably priced.

  5. I wanted to make the Butterscotch Budino from Mozza a while back, when it was being talked about- until I saw this post by Orangette:
    She then made these butterscotch pots de creme, which I actually just got around to making, and which I can totally vouch for! they’re easy, taste like heaven, and don’t have any cornstarch ;)
    On another note- these cookies look incredible. I had a rosemary pine nut tart at Lucques in LA that I’ve been fantasizing about since, so I just might have to give these a go.

  6. These are beautiful, but I wonder does the rosemary crisp up in the oven? When you eat the cookies themselves do you get a big mouthful of hard (or dried up) rosemary? I love the idea!

  7. Hi Joanna- Yes, the rosemary crisps in the oven and you do get a mouthful of rosemary but it isn’t at all hard. It is pretty lovely, in fact.
    Charlotte- Thanks for those very useful links! I didn’t realize Molly had tried the pudding. I’ll give her butterscotch a try…

  8. A grocery store recently called me because the pine nuts I had purchased were recalled. :-(

  9. Those look incredible! Bless all of the people who find and correct mistakes. :)

  10. Louise- That comment provokes a lot of questions- like, how did the grocery store have your phone number?!

  11. These look great. And “nougatine”! Haha what? So cute. Wonder if it’d be good as filling for a plain sugar sandwich cookie too. Have you tried Karen Demasco’s rosemary pinenut tart? Looks equally delish!

  12. Matt and I drove to Palm Springs for the weekend and on our drive home, made a spontaneous stop at Pizzeria Mozza for lunch! It was pretty awesome to get a table and it made me realize (again) that I really, really need this cookbook.

  13. It seems to me that your project was not entirely a loss, as it left you with these gorgeous little cookies. And how nice to know that your instincts were correct! Still, very sorry about your pudding mishap.

  14. Tim, it was an automated phone call from Wegman’s. They have shoppers cards which obviously do more than give you a discount and track purchases.

  15. Okay, Louise! That makes sense. I guess that is one way those cards can be useful…

  16. Carla Savage/Rollins says:

    March 1st, 2012 at 7:50 am

    These are so beautiful. And, right up my alley. I love visual and can just taste that lovely crisp cookie…rosemary and nuts. It’s all there, I’m in. Thanks. You really have a terrific blog.

  17. I was baking a recipe from a cookbook recently and had the same situation happen with a salt typo. My instincts said “this is not right” but I went with the recipe, which turned out inedible. Lesson learned! You gotta use critical thinking in the kitchen and your gut is usually right. The cookies look so pretty, by the way. I’m a huge fan of Nancy Silverton and I’m glad you forgave her team the mistake.

  18. These look unbelievable! Nougatine topping? You have my attention.

    This is something new to me so I’m really excited to give it a go!

  19. I think these are the cutest little cookies I’ve ever seen. Would you be inclined to serve these with a nice bottle of port or after dinner wine? And some cheese?

  20. My one surviving herb plant is a rosemary bush, so I think it’s a sign I should make these.

    Anyway, these look like a lot of fun to make and eat, and thanks also for the heads-up about the error in the cookbook. I was reconsidering ordering it after you mentioned the error, but since they were so quick to get back to you I think I will order it after all.

    (I don’t know if there’s a Meijer reasonably close to where you live, but I’ve found their nut prices to be the best; sadly I don’t live in the Midwest anymore. I store them in the fridge too, that seems to extend their life a few extra weeks.)

  21. I love the look of these and your tip about splitting the tasks over a couple of days. That plate is Stunning, I would love to own it!
    Great cookies, love the Rosemary combined with pine nuts x

  22. A really lovely recipe…these look stunning! I was just going to mention that gorgeous plate and notice Laura mentions it above as well…a gorgeous design!

  23. Elizabeth says:

    March 1st, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    These look wonderful, but I have been wary of pine nuts ever since experiencing pine mouth this past summer (from Trader Joe’s pine nuts! One of my only complaints I’ve ever had with their products).

  24. These cookies are the prettiest you have ever made, Tim! They look so special that i wouldnt want to eat them (but what a waste that would be!).

  25. Cookbookchick says:

    March 3rd, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    For several years now, a recipe for similar cookies from Martha Stewart has been my favorite tea cookie. On her website, they’re called Pine-Nut Cookies with Rosemary. Sophisticated and delicious!

  26. Almost to pretty to eat. Almost.

  27. Wow! These are show stopper cookies. I may have to use the bag of pine nuts I bought for this instead of the salad I had planned.

  28. I saw the small screen shot of your new post and thought — “Those look like kitty cookies!” On closer inspection it’s rosemary, NOT whiskers…but this cat lover is still intrigued by a delicious sounding cookie. Thanks for another winner, Tim!

  29. Sorry to hear about the budino drama – what (incorrect) amount did the recipe call for?

    I went on a butterscotch pudding rampage this time last year, and, after about 6 different tries, finally got one that had good, butterscotchy flavor and a soft, creamy set:
    I top it with whipped cream and maldon salt. It’s now a standby, last-minute-dessert recipe in my kitchen.

    Next time, I’ll be sure to pair it with these delicious looking cookies. Thanks!

  30. Wow, these cookies look delicious! It might be nice to have something a little more savory for a change. I love pine nuts! I bet my picky family would hate these, and I’m just vindictive enough to make them eat them anyway! ;) Thanks for a great recipe!

  31. We grabbed budinos from Mozza to go last time we were in LA. These cookies were the best part- excited to find the recipie here.

  32. These look so good! I bet they taste even better

  33. they look perfect. seriously.

  34. These are so completely adorable, budino or not!

  35. Just made several recipes from the book, including the butterscotch budino and these cookies (which were wonderful!). Like you, I knew the amount of cornstarch in the recipe was WAY too much, but I went ahead anyway thinking they must be right. Had to throw it out and start over! Found the recipe on-line from both the LA Times and the New York Times with 5 tablespoons of cornstarch. I’ll try it next time with 4 tablespoons, I think that will be even better.

  36. I just made the Bundino recipe with the 5 T of cornstarch, which I thought was a lot, but made it exactly as the recipe said. And it all came out beautifully! Make sure to cook out the cornstarch as the recipe states. I would like to tinker with the recipe and make it with more egg yolks like a typical pudding without cornstarch.

  37. Hi Genie- Yep, the recipe works with 5 tablespoons. The problem was the cookbook calls for 2/3 cup of cornstarch, which will never cook out. Glad you liked it!

  38. I just made/ ate about 6 of these cookies and they are magic. I was out of pine nuts so I used toasted hazelnuts the flavors worked really well together.

What do you think?