This local pastry chef is representing Houston on ‘Spring Baking Championship’

Learn how to make pine nut cookies with the pastry chef representing Houston on the new season of Food Network’s ‘Spring Baking Championship.' Diego Chiarello, owner of La Sicilia Italian Bakery & Café in Montrose, is one of 12 contestants elevating springtime desserts on the popular baking competition.

HOUSTON – Season 8 of the popular Food Network competition, Spring Baking Championship, has a new batch of contestants creating treats to impress judges Duff Goldman, Kardea Brown and Nancy Fuller.

One of those contestants is an Italian native who now calls Houston home.

His name is Diego Chiarello, pastry chef, and owner of La Sicilia Italian Bakery & Café, who stopped to talk about his experience on the hit baking show and shared an easy pine nut cookie recipe you can do at home.

To see Chiarello’s complete interview and recipe, watch the video above.

Spring Baking Championship airs Mondays at 7 pm CT on Food Network and streams on discovery+.

To connect with Chiarello, click here.


Diego Chiarello shows his pignoli cookies (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)


- 1 ½ lb. almond paste

- 1 ½ cups sugar

- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar

- 4 egg whites

- 1 lb. pine nuts (pignoli)


Preheat your oven to 350.

Add 1 ½ lb. almond paste, 1 ½ cups sugar, 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, and 4 egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer or just your favorite bowl if you are mixing by hand.

Mix until combined into a sticky dough.

Scoop enough dough to form approximately 1″ ball of dough. Add the ball of pine nuts and use your hands to crush pine nuts into the ball of dough. Be careful not to overwork dough or the pine nuts won’t stick.

Continue this process until you’ve used up all your dough and each ball is perfectly covered in pine nuts.

Place your pine nuts-encrusted dough balls on a parchment-lined baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe provided by Diego Chiarello.

About the Author:

Beatriz is a producer for Houston life. She’s a dog mom who enjoys traveling and eating her way through new cities and cultures.