Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Shellbark Hickory Kisses (Guten free)

Shellbark Hickory trees, which produce the shellbark hickory nut, are found in Ohio, southern Pennsylvania, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, etc. They are not found in the Berkshires, and, in any case, not in August. Nuts are harvested in the fall. They can be purchased in late September from a website, www.nativenuts.com. However, Native Nuts is out of them now. Native Nuts describes shellbark hickory nuts as sweet, but hard to crack.
Anyhow, I was in a lather to (a.) knock off more recipes, and (b) use the egg whites produced by the rum pie. I was just waiting to acquire an egg beater before making these. A gentleman named Lock, who runs a gourmet food store in Great Barrington called Lock, Stock and Barrel, told me that the closest thing to a hickory nut that  you could actually buy in a store year round was pecans. So, technically, these are Pecan Hickory Kisses.
While these can be made in a summer rental, I don't advise it, not because of degree of difficulty, or necessity for odd implements, but because of the temperature. Shellbark Hickory Kisses are merangues, and meranges don't do well in hot weather. They lose their crunchy lightness and get gummy. I also don't advise putting them in a tin and leaving them for hikers on the Appalachian Trail for the same reason.
But, that was exactly what I did. I made them and was able to beat the egg whites without the cream of tartar. ( Cream of tartar just makes it easier to beat the egg whites.) It says to bake them seven to eight minutes. I found 10 to 12 minutes to be more accurate.
These cookies are very good. They have a buttery flavor that may have come from the pecans, despite there being no butter in the recipe. They are gluten free so I could actually eat a few without worrying about my hip. However, they are not a hot weather cookie. Since we were getting ready for our dinner party, I stuck them in the freezer and put them up on the trail on Friday morning when we were on our way to Mass MoCa.
Usually, it only takes 24 hours or so for the cookies to be completely gone. For various reasons, this did not happen with these cookies. Hikers might not have liked the gumminess. However I think the real reason is, there are fewer hikers. Three weeks ago, when I finished off New York State, I ran into 22 hikers in one day in one six mile stretch of the trail. Last week, when I went hiking with my husband in Connecticut, we met 10. Yesterday, when I did the section south of Falls Village, I met nobody.
On Sunday morning, I picked up the tin. It was about half full. Oh well, win some, lose some.

Shellbark Hickory Kisses

3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups whole shellbark hickory nuts or other nuts broken into pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Beat the egg whites lighly until foamy and add the salt and cream of tartar. (See note.) Beat, gradually adding the confectioners' sugar.. Continue beating until the whites stand in peaks . Fold in the nuts
3. Scoop up bits of meingue with a teaspoon and push off onto a buttered baking sheet. Bake seven to eight minutes.
Makes about 2 dozen.

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