After making a light, cheesy soufflé or tangy, airy buttermilk waffles, I open my fridge only to be confronted by the perilously stacked containers of egg yolks that didn't get used in my egg white–centric cooking project the day before. In the past, I've left the yolks sitting in my fridge as long as I could, before sheepishly tossing them all in the trash. It's a terrible feeling. And really, throwing away egg yolks is akin to tossing out liquid gold. While they might be too heavy and dense for some recipes, they give other foods their velvety, rich taste and texture. Here are some of our very favorite ways to use up any and all egg yolks—you'll never feel like throwing them out again.
Rich Savory Dishes and Sauces
Using a higher ratio of egg yolks to egg whites gives our classic, go-to pasta its beautiful color and delicate, rich flavor. Once you've got the classic pasta dough recipe down (it's super-simple, we promise), try your hand at this gorgeous ravioli stuffed with a runny egg yolk. A ring of creamy ricotta between the pasta and the yolk acts as a cushion, so the yolk doesn't break, while bringing the dish a wonderful balance of sweet and salty.
I grew up eating challah—a traditional Jewish braided bread—each Friday for Shabbat, and I've always loved the heavy, rich texture it gets from plenty of egg yolks. Our challah recipe calls for 15 large egg yolks, which give the bread a light yellow tint and a mellow sweetness. Using so many yolks means you may even have to separate some extra eggs and set the whites aside for yet another project.
When I'm not in the mood for a big cooking or baking project, I use yolks to emulsify and richen all sorts of sauces. I whip up mayonnaise to go with a pan of roasted vegetables, blend a super-quick hollandaise to pour over eggs, or make a foolproof béarnaise to blanket a medium-rare steak with asparagus and roasted potatoes on the side.
An egg custard was the first dish I ever learned how to make. Making creme brûlée sounded impressive to my 13-year-old ears, but it was simple enough that I could handle it on my own. And that's how most egg yolk–based custards are: simple, straightforward, and sure to impress guests at your dinner party. Now that my cooking chops are a little more developed, I take on other custards—smooth and creamy butterscotch pudding, nutty roasted-buckwheat soba-cha, and when I forget about bananas and they get almost too ripe, this creamy banana pudding is just the thing.
Rich Ice Creams
Having too many egg yolks on hand always seems like a really, really good excuse to make ice cream. The yolks get mixed into the ice cream base along with varying proportions of milk, cream, aromatics, and sugar. I'm particularly fond of this jet-black sesame ice cream. Light-brown sugar complements the deeply roasted sesame paste's flavor. When I'm craving a little more texture, I'll churn a batch with bits of cookie crumbled in. I love the warm and comforting flavors of oatmeal cookie ice cream, and the buttery little bits of cookie crumb in each scoop of homemade speculoos ice cream. And while most people forget about gingerbread cookies for all but one or two months of the year, I'd gladly eat this gingerbread ice cream in any season.
There are plenty of other sweets that call for that extra egg yolk (or 10) in your fridge. You could try your hand at a rich, mellow French buttercream to finish any number of decadent cakes. If you're trying to impress someone or just treat yourself to a solo evening of cake, it never hurts to make this moist devil's food cake. It takes one bowl, no mixer, and is sinfully easy to make.
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