In addition to not having much time for kitchen projects, I have also been feeling a little bored of myself in the kitchen. I tend to make the same sorts of things with the same ingredients. I felt like I was in a little bit of a rut. I decided to try something new in the form of these pecan rochers (boulders en francais). Little piles of meringue, filled with pecan pieces. I don’t have much experience with meringues and so this seemed like a good challenge.
I was shocked at how easy these were and how impressive they looked! You can really fool your friends into thinking you’ve got some mad pastry skills! The eggs whip up pretty easily in a stand mixer and then I used a large plastic storage bag with a corner snipped off to pipe them onto the cookie sheet. In 15 minutes magic happens and the meringues suddenly have a slightly crunchy exterior that crumbles into a soft and perfect center. They kept well for several days in an airtight container at room temperature. I think they were even better the second day. I tried these with both almonds and pecans. I definitely liked the pecans better, but feel free to play around. I am anxious to try rose water and pistachio which might be brilliant.
These were just what I needed to get me out of my slump and excited about cooking again. Sometimes we need to approach the problem in a new way or try out a new technique to get re-inspired in the kitchen. What new things have you tried lately?
Pecan Rochers (Inspired by the Almond Rochers in the Tartine cookbook and the pecan meringues at Floriole)
- 1 1/4 cup pecans
- 2 large egg whites, room temp
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick liner.
Spread the pecans on an unlined baking sheet. Place in the oven and toast until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes, Let cool completely. Take 1/2 cup of the pecans and finely chop with knife or pulse a few times in food processor. Chop remaining pecans into 1/4 inch pieces.
Pour water to a depth of about 2 inches into a saucepan, place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Combine the egg whites, confectioners’ sugar, and salt in the stainless-steel bowl of a stand mixer that will rest securely in the rim of the saucepan over, not touching, the water. Whisk together and then place over the saucepan and continue to whisk until the whites are hot to the touch, about 5 -7 minutes. Remove the bowl from over the water and place on the mixer stand. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on high speed until the mixture is very thick and holds glossy, stiff peaks when you lift the beater. Fold in the pecans and vanilla with a rubber spatula.
Immediately scoop the meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch (no. 6 or 7) plain tip (or sandwich bag with corner cut off) and pipe onto the prepared baking sheet, forming mounds about 1 inch in diameter and spacing them about 1½ inches apart.
Place the baking sheet in the oven and keep the oven door ajar with the handle of a wooden spoon to allow moisture to escape. Bake the cookies until they puff slightly, crack along the sides, and feel dry on the outside but soft to the touch, 15 to 20 minutes. They will harden as they cool. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool. They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
***Do not bake these on a humid day. They need to dry out and humidity is their enemy.
***Also, remember that the wooden spoon you are using to keep the oven door propped open gets very, very hot. Use a towel. Trust me.
September 8th, 2009 at 4:15 pm
MMMMM. Have you been to Tartine? Heaven on earth.
September 8th, 2009 at 5:58 pm
These sound (and look) heavenly! They would make a wonderful addition to a holiday cookie tray!
September 8th, 2009 at 7:40 pm
Beautiful. Does get you thinking about Christmas baking. Is this good or bad?
Angharad (Eating for England) says:
September 8th, 2009 at 9:28 pm
I’ve just discovered your blog and am in love! So beautiful. Love all your recipes and defo have some brilliant inspiration for new stuff…so thank you!
September 9th, 2009 at 6:29 am
Definitely a recipe I will try, but on another day. It’s raining here in Southwestern PA. I love meringues, but have always been a little scared to make them. I guess I’ve been afraid they would come out flat. Do you think you could figure out a way to incorporate chocolate into them, Tim because these would be great to satisfy my chocolate cravings without any fat?
September 9th, 2009 at 6:55 am
These are a holiday favorite of mine; though every time I make them, I wonder why I wait until the holidays!
Andilynn – I also put mini choc chips in mine. I have also made them with a tablespoon or two of cocoa (which adds very subtle choc. flavor w/o the fat.
Tim – can’t wait to hear about the rosewater/pistachio version – sounds delightful!!
Love your blog – happy belated blogday.
Kerrin @ MyKugelhopf says:
September 9th, 2009 at 8:58 am
Mmm, meringues! An absolute favorite of mine. Crispy on the outside and light and chewy on the inside. By the photo above, you don’t even realize there’s a nutty surprise inside. I love to play around with my meringues/rochers – using different flavored chocolate or extracts/powders. Now that you’ve got the basic proportions above, it’s time to play! I’ll try using powdered sugar as you did here, I usually just use granulated. Love it, thanks!
September 9th, 2009 at 2:05 pm
Laura [What I Like] says:
September 9th, 2009 at 2:35 pm
This is awesome…I have all of those ingredients sitting in my freezer at this very moment! And my kitchen is feeling a bit pathetic since I’ve been out of town recently. A batch of these will most certainly warm things up nicely.
Lori @ RecipeGirl says:
September 10th, 2009 at 7:20 am
I don’t have much experience w/ meringues either, but these look lovely. I’m thinkin’ I should give it a shot too.
Martin Manalansan says:
September 10th, 2009 at 12:37 pm
This is the next recipe I will attempt. These wondeful pecan meringue kisses are my Saturday morinng treats at Chicago’s Green City farmers market. I always savor them as I walk around with my coffee, looking at the enticing displays of fruits, vegetables and other artisanal organic products. I am going to dip the bottoms in chocolate and have them as an elegant part of a mignardise plate. Thank you!!!
September 10th, 2009 at 2:55 pm
I, too love meringues and like to make bigger, flat ones to fill with fruit, and a little ice cream or whipped cream. The most important thing about these goodies is to make sure no fat whatsoever gets into the egg whites. If you accidentally get some yoke in with the whites, they’ll never whip up properly. I learned this the hard way, so I have never forgotten!
Chez Us says:
September 10th, 2009 at 3:47 pm
Just stumbled upon your site … love it! You have become my new favorite crush *blush* Keep cooking & keep feeding us
September 10th, 2009 at 4:01 pm
Have just discovered your gorgeous blogs via my dear friend Denise from Chez Us! Once I drop the kids to school I plan to make a cup of tea and have a read and dig around some of these stunning recipes :)
September 10th, 2009 at 4:11 pm
Welcome Chez Us and MsGourmet! Glad you found me.
Peg, thanks for the tip on the egg whites!
Martin, you’ll be glad you tried these! They’ll be especially good when pecans are available at Green City!
Jeanine from Holland says:
September 11th, 2009 at 6:20 am
When you leave out the nuts and form a big circle (springform size) with all off the batter, following all the other steps like you did, you become a really stunning pavlova. Put some unsugared or a little sugared whipped cream and the pulp of some passion fruits on top and you have a wowie dessert!
September 14th, 2009 at 6:54 am
ooo lala, I’m totally gonna make these!
September 29th, 2009 at 11:56 am
Wonderful site! I can tell it will quickly become one of my “get me through the work week” go to blogs.
I’m jealous your meringues turned out so spectacularly on your first try. It took me 5 or so tries before I finally got something that resembled a meringue. I even wrote some haikus about my meringue-related trauma. (http://thincrustdeepdish.blogspot.com/2009/01/if-at-first-you-dont-succeed-try-try.html). I’ll have to give your recipe a try!
April 3rd, 2012 at 6:15 am
wow, even if I read your blog regularly I missed that one, can’t wait to try them!!! ;) thank you!!!
December 18th, 2012 at 4:11 pm
What’s the secret? These rochers look perfect- every other blogger (and myself) really struggles with getting this recipe to turn out something that doesn’t resemble dog droppings