This is the eighth in our monthlong series, 12 Days of Cookies, featuring classic and inventive recipes from across the country.
Aaron Vandemark isn’t one to shy away from a challenge.
At his restaurant, Panciuto, located in the tiny town of Hillsborough, North Carolina, he holds himself to a 90/10 rule: 90 percent of the ingredients on his menu must be produced locally.
This stricture would prove limiting for others, but not Vandemark, who cooks best (and, he admits, most happily) under some pressure.
Case in point: an eggplant funnel cake, which was born out of desperation this past fall, when summer produce had dried up, but winter roots hadn’t peaked. “All we had to work with was eggplant, and lots of it,” he says. “It took some trial and error to use it on the dessert menu, but ultimately the funnel cake became one of our most popular dishes.”
So when we tasked him with creating a holiday cookie recipe (see it here), we weren’t surprised that he set himself a lofty goal: capture the liquidy deliciousness of eggnog in cookie form.
After numerous tests, he settled on something unconventional: using hard-boiled yolks to make a frosting that is intensely eggy, but also thick and velvety in texture. Spiked with rum and nutmeg, the frosting tastes exactly of eggnog; sandwiched between cinnamon-pecan wafers, you’ll never miss your carton of the real stuff.
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