24. A’s Soldier Kisses Cookies

My great grandmother is rather direct; she is originally from Finland and spent years as a missionary before marrying my great grandfather. I remember my childhood visits to her as being punctuated by many desserts and at odd hours: one morning, my mother awoke to find her own grandmother and her two children gleefully eating bowls of ice cream for breakfast with brownies on the side.

When I called her to talk about some changes in wedding plans, she told me that there was a word in Finnish that meant determination but was literally translated as “willing to walk through snow.” She said matter-of-factly, “That is what you need for a marriage to work.” I thought about the piles of snow I see in the winter and how uninterested I usually am in soldiering out; this seemed a slightly unforgiving view of marriage. Still, I was glad to have someone be a realist instead of asking variations of the question “Are you sooooo happy?” It seems important to get that real-world advice, the need for determination, before a wedding. It feels like the wedding is less of a fairy tale and more my actual life.

She gave me a recipe for one of the many sweets we ate as children, a fluffy pecan merengue cookie that she called “Soldier’s Kisses.” I thought they weren’t going to set up well because I used one egg white and it just seemed a bit soupy, but when they came out of the oven, they were rich and sweet, chewy in the middle and crisped on the outside, and perfect as a part of breakfasts in honor of all the time we spent being unhealthy as children.

I would probably modify them to include a second egg white, just to have more umph to the merengue, but the below recipe worked.

A’s Soldier Kisses

1 egg white
1 cup brown (light) sugar
2 cups pecan pieces
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp vanilla.
Beat egg white and sugar; add other ingredients slowly while mixing. Drop in spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the edges are done. (I’ve also seen online that some folks just preheat the oven and then leave the cookies overnight in the oven to harden; experiment and see what you get both ways!)

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