The older I get, the more I enjoy foraged foods. They bring back powerful memories of foods my ancestors loved. Last September my husband and I were thrilled to find a hickory nut tree in a fence row. We gathered and hulled the fallen nuts, then brought them home and spread them out on newspapers to dry.
Last week-end we cracked the hickory nuts and then used nut picks to remove the tiny nut meats. The process was incredibly tedious—and the pile of shelled hickory nuts grew with agonizing slowness.
I knew that I had to find the perfect recipe to use the precious nuts. When I saw a recipe for Hickory Nut Macaroons in the Lycoming Valley Cook Book, I just had to try it. The cookbook is a 1907 church cookbook compiled by the Ladies of the Trout Run M.E. Church, Trout Run, Pa.
Here’s my updated version of the recipe.
Hickory Nut Macaroons
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup hickory nut pieces
Preheat oven to 350° F. Put the egg whites into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric beater until stiff peaks form. Slowly add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, while continuing to beat. Add flour, and beat just enough to blend it into the mixture. Then gently fold the hickory nuts into the egg white mixture. Drop by rounded teaspoons two inches apart on greased baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the macaroons are just starting to turn light brown.
Makes approximately 36 macaroons.
The verdict—The macaroons were incredible. They were light and airy with a chewy texture on the inside and crispy on the outside, and the complex buttery taste of the hickory nuts took me back to long-forgotten flavor sensations from my childhood.
Here’s the original recipe. Would you interpret it the same way that I did?