pecan meringue cookies

My boyfriend's parents, Jill and Bob, lavish me with love and support beyond what is reasonable for a non-Jewish girl dating their only son. I'm fairly certain that there is nothing I could make for them that wouldn't result in a call to their friends and/or an entry in a journal: "Dear Journal - Jen made us the most wonderful bowl of cereal today." And while I can't even think about telling my parents about this blog for fear of them driving up to Boston to physically smash my computer to pieces, Jill and Bob are absolutely giddy over it.
All this love means that I am the lucky recipient of some amazing and bizarre culinary gifts. One was a giant hunk of pink salt with a specialized sea salt shaver. Another was the inspiration for this post - a truly gigantic looped wire whisk. 

I hope that this picture adequately conveys the sheer size of this thing. I mean, this is one serious piece of equipment. The circular loops in the wire forces more air into whatever it's whisking, so it takes less time and effort to whip the hell out of whatever you'd like. So while it takes less than two minutes on television with a stand mixer, I did this the old-school way - with sweat, tears, and my non-existent upper body strength.
Other than the labor, the recipe is dead easy. Four egg whites at room temperature in a spotless bowl, 1/4 of a teaspoon of cream of tartar, a pinch of salt, and some vanilla. 
For some reason, I get performance anxiety when I crack eggs. The more pressure there is to not get a shell in there, or to not break the yolk, the more likely I am to do both. To protect against this inevitable screw-up, I played it safe by sifting the whites between my fingers, rather than doing that back and forth thing that always looks easier than it actually is.
Ok, here we go...
Foam and bubbles at about 30 seconds in, with quick circular motions. It's all in the wrist.
I've hit soft peaks at about four minutes of constant whisking, having to use my left hand awkwardly from time to time. The downside of appointing your boyfriend as designated photographer is the inability to switch off. 
I gradually added a mixture of brown and white sugar, all the while whisking to make sure I didn't lose any air.  
All this time, I'm imagining that I am part of the Top Chef relay race, and someone on my team is waiting for me to tag them so that they can extract the milk from fifty coconuts. Tom Colicchio is watching me, and he'll blow his little whistle if I pass the ultimate test of meringue-worthy egg whites...
Test passed. Stiff egg whites that stand firm and remain resolute in the face of gravity at eight minutes. 
After my victory dance, I carefully folded in an overflowing cup of toasted chopped pecans until the whites were flecked with bits of brown. 

Using two teaspoons, I dropped imperfect lumps onto two sheet pans, spacing them two inches apart. 

They baked for two and a half hours at a low temperature of 225, coming out exactly as picturesque as they did going in. 

Sweet, shatteringly crisp, with the scent of pecans running throughout, these cookies won't even undo the workout you put yourself through to make them.

pecan meringue cookies - adapted from Simply Recipes
makes about 24-32 cookies
4 egg whites at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of pecans, toasted in a 350 degree oven for five minutes
1 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup of brown and 1/2 of white. I would use less sugar next time - maybe 3/4 a cup - since I like my desserts a little less sweet. But I'm a savory person - like the title of my blog would suggest.)

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Get a bowl that seems unnecessarily big, and make sure it and your whisk are completely clean and dry. Egg whites will refuse to behave if you introduce any speck of yolk or oil into their environment. Whisk, whisk, whisk like there's no tomorrow using small circular motions. If you have an electric hand mixer, go for it - you just won't be as gloriously toned as I am.

Once you get soft peaks, gradually add the sugar and continue whisking until it is dissolved and stiff peaks form. If you're uncertain about the stiffness of your peaks, feel free to hold the bowl above someone else's head. Gently fold in the nuts.

Drop the batter onto two parchment paper lined baking sheets, spacing them about two inches apart. Bake for 2 to 2 and a half hours; test them after 2 to see if they are thoroughly dry to the touch. Cool, remove from sheet, and admire.


Anonymous said...


jill Dandorph said...

when someone so special takes the time to put even simple ingredients together, whips up spectacular peaks, and shares love- between the preparation, the cooking and the sitting down to eat- the experience is wonderfully explosive! here's to an outrageous recipe, so proud to have furnished the props! we can't imagine all the possibilities and all the wonderful meals yet to come with you.