experiments in the kitchen: orange spice pecan shortbread cookies made with leftover egg yolks

orange nutmeg shortbread cookies

suppose you’ve made a delicious meringue. suppose you then have six egg yolks, tragically separated from their egg white counterparts, sitting forlornly on your kitchen counter and hoping not to be wasted. what to do?

the obvious answer:  you make cookies! i actually think that answer applies to many different scenarios, but maybe that’s just me. anyway, in a valiant attempt to save the extra egg yolks, i went for a little baking experimentation. i decided to throw together all the usual cookie suspects – butter, sugar, flour – and add the extra egg yolks and see what happened. a little poking around in the kitchen cupboards resulted in the addition of nutmeg and allspice for added flavor and an orange in the fridge was also requesting to be consumed and zested. and as soon as the cookie dough circles were baking, i noticed a big bag of pecans next to the oven so i pulled the cookies back out and pressed the halves on top for an additional flavor dimension and some visual excitement.
the result?  super easy orange spice pecan shortbread cookies, also known as the perfect way to use up your extra egg yolks. i’m calling them shortbread because they came out of the oven with a certain density that i associate with those brick-like butter cookies.  the hardness is due to the lack of egg whites, which are often used to lighten recipes or make airy confections like the pavlova. but  since this was just an on-the-spot creation, the recipe proportions are pretty vague. if you wanted a lighter or softer cookie,  you could experiment with the dough consistency or include some actual egg whites,  but these shortbreads actually turned out pretty tasty. almost worth making meringue just to follow up with cookies. or do both at the same time! you can never have too many desserts…

Orange Spice Pecan Shortbread Cookies

plate of orange pecan cookies

What You Need:

6 egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

4 tbsp butter

1 cup flour

1 pinch nutmeg

1 pinch allspice

orange zest

the juice from half a small orange (2 tbsp or so, i’m guessing)

pecan halves

What To Do:

1. cream the butter and sugar together and add the egg yolks. mix in the flour until you’ve got a good workable dough of normal cookie consistency. full disclosure: i’ll admit i was just playing around with proportions and didn’t write anything down. if the cookie dough doesn’t taste good enough to scoop right out of the mixing bowl into your mouth, you should probably adjust accordingly.

2. add in the spices, the orange zest and the juice. adjust for dough consistency and spice level, or add in other spices of your choice. cinnamon would be good too…

3. form dough into circles and place on a cookie sheet. i happened to have a mini muffin tin at hand so i ended up with flat little muffin top circles. place pecan halves on top before baking so they get that toasty roasty flavor (that’s a technical term).

4. bake at 350 for 10 minutes or so.

5. congratulate yourself for having successfully not thrown out perfectly good egg yolks. you wanted an excuse to eat more butter and sugar anyway, didn’t you?

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