Cookies Made of Air…And Pecans

I somehow feel that cookie monster would be proud of these little sweets. I’ve been trying to branch out more with baking. I just feel like I’m not so good at measuring and being exact; baking has so many rules and I’ve never been good at following rules. Also, it seems that cow dairy products like delicious butter and milk and cream (gahhhhh) actually make me sick by giving me headaches or hives. How can you bake without dairy? That’s like re-naming french-fries to freedom-fries. It’s just unnatural…

That is until the BF’s dad requested that at some point I make a meringue pie. While I haven’t accommodated that, it did spark a little thought in my brain. Meringue is just egg whites and sugar, and eggs don’t seem to make me sick, so… Genius! Meringue style cookies! Making lemon meringue cookies seemed out of season (but sounds like a good experiment for the next time I want to try my hand at baking) so chocolate was the only way to go. But I wanted these cookies to have a little more oomph, so nuts were necessary.

Little known family fact? My great-Granny’s house in Georgia had a grove of pecan trees. (It was also located on Highway 41, where the dude from that Allman Brothers song, Ramblin’ Man, claims to have been born in the backseat of a Greyhound bus.) Family members would harvest these pecans and shuck them and send them out to land-locked pecan-deprived Colorado. As such I have a bit of a bias toward pecans.

You will want to use parchment paper for these light, meringue-style cookies to avoid burning the bottoms and aid both in cooling them and also removing them from the pan.

Pecan Ginger Chocolate Meringue Cookies
–2 3/4 cups chopped pecans
–3 cups powdered sugar (also called confectioner’s sugar)
–3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
–1/4 teaspoon of salt
–1 TBSP crystallized ginger pieces
–4 egg whites
–1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pecans out onto a non-greased baking sheet. Brown the pecans for 7-9 minutes until they are slightly toasted and tasty smelling but not too browned or burnt. Set them aside and allow them to cool.

Mix the sugar, cocoa, salt, and ginger pieces in a large bowl until well mixed. The mixture will turn grey as the cocoa and sugar combines. Add the cooled pecans and stir again until well combined.

Add the egg whites and the vanilla. Using a fork, beat the mixture slowly and steadily until the batter is moist but not stiff.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (you can re-use the pecan toaster) and drop spoonfuls of batter spaced out onto the sheet. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes. The tops will still be shiny and the cookies will start to crack and may be a little gooey in the center; they will finish setting into firm cookies as they cool. Remove from the hot baking sheets and set the entire parchment paper piece on a wire rack to allow the cookies to cool before pulling them away from the parchment paper and serving.

These guys will keep in a sealed plastic container (like Tupperware) for a week or so before they get too hard.

Dammit Jim, I’m a cook, not a doctor…
Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 24 cookies
Estimated Calories: 172 per cookie

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