Noodle Cookies - Russian Pecan Meringues
You may have never heard of Noodle Cookies before, but they come from a long tradition of dishes and desserts made with noodles, nuts, eggs and sugar. My Ukrainian grandmother used broad noodles to prepare Kugel with cinnamon. The Ukraine has a definitive noodle history. As far back as the 16th and 17th century, evidence shows that noodles began to appear in Russian cuisine. Even earlier, noodles were known to exist in third century AD China. Today, handmade noodles with eggs are rolled and crisped in the oven, folded into a brown sugar pecan meringue, then baked into a crunchy cookie. Be generous when you hand them out to children and neighbours, family and friends. There won't be a crumb of disappointment anywhere.
Thank you Olia Hercules for including this recipe in your book Mamushka: Recipes from Ukraine and Eastern Europe. It's a real winner of a cookie.
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- Makes 25-30 meringue cookies
- 6 (3.8 ounces/108 grams) egg yolks
- 4 teaspoons granulated white sugar
- 3 tablespoons (2 ounces/58.5 grams) sunflower or safflower oil
- 1 1/3 cup (5.8 ounces/166 grams) bleached all purpose flour
- 1-2 tablespoons tepid water (as needed)
- 4 OR 1/2 cup egg whites at room temperature
- 2/3 cup (4.5 ounces/132 grams) white granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup (5.1 ounces/145.3 grams) light brown sugar very soft and lump free
- 3 cups (21 ounces/594 grams) pecans coarsely chopped
PECAN MERINGUE INGREDIENTS
MISE-EN-PLACE THE NOODLE DOUGH
- Separate eggs yolks and place them in a bowl of a stand mixer. Reserve the egg whites in a liquid measuring cup.
- Combine egg yolks, sugar, and oil in a bowl with a dough whisk or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the beater attachment.
- Measure the flour in a small bowl and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 300ºF/150ºC.
- Line three baking trays with parchment paper or a baking liner.
- Chop the pecans and spread them onto a prepared baking tray.
- Toast the pecans in the 300ºF oven for 30 minutes or until toasty and dry. Set aside to cool completely.
ASSEMBLE NOODLE DOUGH
- Very gradually, add the flour to the liquid ingredients and beat until the dry ingredients are moistened and a dough ball forms.
- Pinch the dough. If it holds together easily, then dump the dough onto your counter and knead it until smooth and elastic. If the dough isn't supple and won't roll easily, then add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough is no longer dry.
NOTES ON THE NOODLE DOUGH
- Egg yolks will create a very dry and crispy noodle when baked. The noodle will also stay crispy in the meringue batter and in the baked cookie. The oil will make the dough supple and easy to roll.
ROLL AND CUT THE NOODLES
- Roll out the noodle dough into a square or round, about 1/8" thick. Rolling thinner than this will change the texture of the finished cookie. The dough could feel a bit oily. Sprinkle a little flour to prevent sticking.
- Roll the dough into a tight cylinder.
- With a chef's knife, cut the dough crosswise into very thin slices, as thin as possible.
- Toss the threads to open them up and spread them on your prepared baking tray.
BAKE THE NOODLES
- In a 300ºF oven, bake the tray of noodles for about 20-25 minutes. You are looking for a dry, well toasted noodle.
- Remove the noodles to a dry kitchen towel to absorb any remaining moisture.
- Let the noodles cool completely.
MISE EN PLACE THE PECAN MERINGUE
- Lower the oven temperature to 250ºF.
- Combine the brown and white sugars and break up any lumps you find. Set aside.
- Warm the egg whites to be slightly warmer than your finger. You can do this in the microwave on very low heat for 30-45 seconds at a time.
- Combine the dry noodles and pecans and set aside.
- Place a wide mouth bowll to the side. Also get a large spatula and set it with this bowl.
WHIP THE MERINGUE
- Whisk the egg whites until very soft peaks. Click here to learn more about how to whip meringue.
- Add the sugar gradually and continue to whip until you get a firm mixture. The meringue will be glossy and will look a little like marshmallow.
- Scrape out the meringue into your large, dry bowl and add the noodles and pecans to the meringue.
- Gently fold the ingredients together. It might seem that there are too many noodles and pecans for the meringue, but this is correct. The meringue will stretch and hold the cookie together.
- Continue to fold just until combined.
FINAL STEP FOR MAKING NOODLE COOKIES
- Scoop out the cookie batter using two large tablespoons. You should have three trays of 9 cookies.
- If your oven only accommodates two trays, leave the batter at room temperature until you're ready to bake the third tray. You'll be pleased to know that the crispy noodles won't go soggy while waiting.