Ahh, ’tis the season to eat sugar – lots of sugar, in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
I think I have mentioned that I come from a long line of sweet tooth fanatics. We stuffed bags, tins and containers full of peanut butter balls, mint brownies, nutty scramble and sugar cookies every Christmas. And even when my sister and I moved away, we tried new recipes and brought them home for the holidays. Many of them became new traditions and we knew we had better not walk in the door without them, or at least the ingredients to make them.
These new favorites included my sister’s Puppy Chow (or White Trash, depending on where you’re from) and my mint chocolate meringue cookies. I stumbled upon the meringue recipe somewhere and since it had a catchy name – Forgotten Cookies – and looked quick and easy, I gave it a try. Beat an egg white, add some mint extract, a lot of sugar and chocolate chips and throw them in the oven, turn the heat off, and come back in a few hours. Like magic, you pull out a tray of crisp, melty, uber-sweet cookies that offer a welcome change from the butter-laden treats.
Last week, though, I decided to change things up when I spotted a large bag of pecan meal at a fancy, gourmet grocery. The label said the meal was a great for breading fried food, or adding to salad dressings. But my thoughts, of course, turned to sweets. Why not add this meal and some cinnamon to the meringue?
Yep. You never know when inspiration will strike you. I impatiently waited for the guy in front of me to buy $600 (600!) worth of wine and I took my prize home.
Five minutes later, I had meringue cookie batter ready to go. The result is a golden, sugary cookie that tastes like molasses and toasted pecans. It’s the perfect gift for anyone avoiding dairy or gluten. One or two will satisfy even your biggest sugar fiend.
Don’t try to bake these without wax or parchment paper. The bottoms will stick to the pan and you’ll pull up a hollow shell, leaving the insides of the cookie on the tray. Of course, a dab of whipped cream in that shell would taste pretty good…
You can easily make your own pecan meal by tossing a cup of pecans into the food processor and pulsing until you have a fine meal.
Pecan Meringue Cookies
1 large egg white, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup pecan meal
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a cookie tray with parchment or wax paper.
Add the egg white to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk until whites hold a stiff peak. Add the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and blend thoroughly. The batter should turn shiny. At low speed, add the pecan meal and stir just until blended. Drop the batter on the tray by the teaspoonful. You can fit about fifteen on the tray, because they don’t spread much. Bake 30 minutes, until the tops crackle. Remove from the oven and let sit 3-5 minutes. Then, using your fingers, gently peel the cookies from the paper. Cool completely on a rack and store in an airtight container.