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Pecan Kisses

When I first arrived in Gainesville I became obsessed with sour oranges. My new friend Corky had a sour orange tree in her garden – a good orange tree turned ‘native’ after a hurricane. Her tree was full of oranges. She had been letting them fall to the ground and rot for many years. I experimented with sour oranges – cooking nearly everything that asked for key limes – and finding Sour Orange Pie (with a pecan shortbread crust) to be a hands-down winner. I couldn’t get enough oranges. She stripped her tree and I filled my freezer with one cup portions of juice and grated rind so I wouldn’t get withdrawals when the sour orange season was over. Here’s the problem – I made so many dishes that involved egg yolks my fridge became literally overrun with egg whites. I don’t particularly like meringues so I searched for a way to make a ‘cookie’ that uses up the exact number of egg whites that are left over after making a fruit curd or a sour orange pie!

Here they are! Divine little dairy-and-wheat/gluten free, meringue-like cookies. They use less than half the sugar of other similar recipes. Depending on how long you cook them they are crisp and crunchy (better than biscotti!), or soft and chewy! It is impossible to eat one of them. I have known grown men to eat 10 or more in one sitting!

This recipe makes about 40 tablespoon size cookies or about 60-80 small ones and is really quick and easy to cook up!

5 eggs (about a cup of egg whites) at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 cup soft brown sugar
2 cups of ground pecans (or 1 cup ground and 1 cup roughly chopped)

Turn the oven on to 250 degrees
Whisk the egg whites & salt till they form soft peaks.
Add the sugar gradually and carry on whisking until the peaks are stiffer (it’s possible to get stiff whites with confectioner’s sugar but the flavor isn’t the same).
Fold in the pecans.
Line 3 cookie sheets or pans with lightly greased parchment. *
Drop even sized spoonfuls with half inch gaps (they shouldn’t spread much).

Cook for 45 minutes (for chewy cookies)
Cook for one hour or a bit longer (for crisper cookies).

* Use a flavorless oil like safflower or sunflower or canola. I often don’t bother greasing the parchment – once they are cool I peel off the paper carefully so as not to leave any on the cookies!

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