Yummy desert recipes with wee quail eggs from Kelly Bohling. [All photos by author.]
When I started raising quail, I quickly found myself inundated with eggs during the warm months. My fridge was filled with bowls overflowing with quail eggs, and I was quickly running out of variations to spin on omelets and quiches. I needed to find new ways to use up my glut of quail eggs. That’s when I started using them as a substitute in recipes I already knew and trusted, in place of chicken eggs. Many of those recipes were for desserts or other baked items. I discovered that quail eggs are surprisingly well-suited for dessert recipes, as they lend a wonderfully rich and buttery quality to the flavor.
Quail Eggs Instead of Chicken Eggs
Handily, quail eggs can be used in place of chicken eggs in any recipe! Just estimate five quail eggs for each chicken egg, and your tried-and-true recipes are all set for a new depth of flavor. While I enjoy many of my handed-down recipes as quail egg revamps, I’ve created a few of my own that are steadfast staples in my household.
I will give one caveat to baking with quail eggs: While it’s possible to separate the yolks and whites in recipes that call for it, some types of desserts accommodate that better than others. When quail eggs are separated, there will be some contamination of the white with the yolk. I have noticed that the white of a quail egg seems to be a little thicker than that of a chicken egg and less willing to release the yolk, so there will always be a little trace of yolk in the white. Separating when at room temperature does seem to help. In my own experience, this trace contamination makes quail eggs unsuitable for something as finicky as a meringue or an angel food cake, which relies on the purity of the egg white for structure and stability. However, recipes that either use whole eggs or use separated eggs with the white only whipped to the point of soft peaks will work wonderfully.
In terms of whole-egg desserts, homemade pudding is one of my favorites, and the flavor is deliciously enhanced using quail eggs. You can size down this recipe for a smaller batch using two or three quail eggs, which can be a convenient way to use up the oddball egg here and there as the quail start laying more regularly in spring or are winding down in fall.
Vanilla Pudding Recipe
Yield: 4 servings.
5 quail eggs
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups milk (whole is best)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon salted butter (this is a great place to showcase a high-quality butter)
For a chocolate version, add ¼ cup baking cocoa (whisk in with other dry ingredients), and mix in a handful of chocolate chips with the butter and vanilla at the very end.
Open quail eggs in a small bowl and beat well. If you notice shell pieces, pour into a second bowl, leaving those bits behind. In another bowl, whisk sugar and cornstarch together. Heat milk over medium heat in a saucepan, stirring continuously until it just starts to boil. If left heating unattended, the milk can scald on the bottom and a skin can form on the top.
Turn off burner and temper eggs with ½ cup of the hot milk. (To temper, whisk eggs continuously while slowly adding milk in a steady stream. You don’t want to dump it all in at once or stall out with the continuous whisking, or else there will be bits of cooked egg in your pudding.) Once eggs are tempered, add to the sugar and cornstarch mixture. Return this to the saucepan with the remaining milk, whisking well. Turn burner back on to medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened (only a couple of minutes).
Remove from heat, add the vanilla and butter, and stir until incorporated. This pudding is delicious warm or chilled, and can be topped with cinnamon, nutmeg, fresh fruit, or jam. To avoid a skin forming on top while chilling, cover with a piece of plastic wrap once slightly cooled, and press it into the surface, smoothing from the middle out to avoid air bubbles.
You can also use this pudding recipe and its variations to make pudding pies. It’s best to let the pudding thicken just a bit longer on the stove than if you were to have it on its own, as it will help keep the shape of the pie when sliced.
Another pudding I find myself making often is rice pudding. It is a great way to use up leftover rice from dinner, and any rice will do so long as it doesn’t have any herbs or seasonings in it (salt is fine). Calrose rice gives the pudding a delightfully chewy texture and is my favorite kind to use for this pudding.
Yield: 4 to 5 servings.
5 quail eggs
½ cup sugar (or 1/3 cup if you prefer a less sweet pudding)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 ½ cups milk
2 cups cooked rice
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon butter (unsalted if your rice already includes salt)
Open quail eggs in a separate bowl and beat well. Whisk sugar and cornstarch in a separate bowl, and then set aside. Heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat until just boiling. Turn off burner and temper eggs. (See vanilla pudding recipe above for instructions.) Once tempered, add to the bowl with sugar and cornstarch, and combine well. Return this mixture to the saucepan with the remaining milk, and add cooked rice and mix well. Cook over medium heat until thickened (will thicken more as it cools). Turn off heat and stir in the vanilla and butter until well-incorporated. I enjoy this pudding best when it’s warm, but it also can be chilled, as detailed in the vanilla pudding recipe. Try with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon or cloves and a drizzle of honey on top.
Prebaked 9-inch pie shell
Vanilla or chocolate pudding from previous recipe, still hot
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pour pudding into the prebaked pie shell, smooth the top, and cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap to avoid the pudding filling forming a “skin,” smoothing from the center outwards to avoid air bubbles, and refrigerate.
When thoroughly chilled (after a couple of hours), combine the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a bowl. Mix with hand mixer fitted with whisk attachment until it is very thick and holds its shape when mixer is lifted out of the bowl. Gently remove plastic wrap from pie and top with the whipped cream. Cover to the edge of the crust.
You can achieve a “meringue” effect by spooning the whipped cream in dollops and sweeping each with the back of the spoon to create a little peak. For a chocolate pie, top with chocolate shavings or chocolate chips, or drizzle with chocolate sauce. Fresh raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, or shredded sweetened coconut would be a great addition to the top of a vanilla pudding pie.
Quail Egg Brownies
I also want to share a recipe that showcases the decadence of quail eggs. Even though quail are tiny birds, their eggs impart a deep richness, and what better to pair that flavor with than chocolate. I wanted a thick, fudgy brownie with that distinctive chewiness, even in the middle pieces, and the delicate flake layer on top. This recipe delivers.
Yield: 9 brownies. (Recipe can be doubled for a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan size.)
½ cup unsalted butter, cut in rough tablespoon-sized pieces
½ cup chocolate chips (milk chocolate or semi-sweet)
10 quail eggs
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup flour
½ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 325 F and grease an 8-inch-by-8-inch pan. In a double boiler, melt chocolate chips and butter together, stirring often. To melt in microwave, combine chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl, and microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring between, until melted.
Once melted, remove from heat and let cool slightly. Open quail eggs into their own separate bowl. Whisk dry ingredients together. Add melted butter/chocolate to dry ingredients, mixing well. Add quail eggs and vanilla. Mix to incorporate well, but do not over-mix.
Spread evenly into the pan, using a rubber spatula to encourage batter into the corners and smooth the surface. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean in the center. Toward the end of baking, you will see the brownies “poof” up in the middle and then settle back down, indicating that it’s time to test for doneness.
Remove from oven (you can sprinkle the top with extra chocolate chips for added indulgence) and let cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, or enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
While many people are more familiar with quail eggs in a savory setting, whether at the dinner table or at breakfast time, quail eggs also champion the dessert frontier. Their richness and buttery flavor perfectly complement the sweetness of chocolate, vanilla, and fruit. Try these recipes for yourself and find a new favorite treat, or rediscover an old favorite recipe, passed down and cherished for generations, in a new way, with quail eggs!
Kelly Bohling is a native of Lawrence, Kansas. She works as a classical violinist, but in between gigs and lessons, she’s out in the garden or spending time with her animals, including quail and French Angora rabbits. Kelly also spins the Angora fiber from her rabbits into yarn for knitting, which can be found in her Etsy shop, ThreeRabbitYarns. She enjoys finding ways that her animals and garden can benefit each other for a more sustainable urban farmstead. You can also follow her on Instagram.