Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies (reminiscent of a French Macaron)... Francois Payard If you like chocolate and walnuts, you might want to give these cookies a try. Oh, and if you like fudgy, chewy cookies, then these cookies are really worth making...
When I first came upon this recipe some time ago, I immediately thought of the classic French macarons. That's only because the ingredients for the chocolate-walnut cookies were quite similar to those associated with the French macarons....contained the usual nuts, egg whites and icing sugar. But the process for these cookies was much simpler. And the result? Well, it's a cross between a macaron and a fudgy brownie cookie. Best of both worlds, I think.... and delicious.
Interestingly enough, this cookie is gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free.... and it contains no oil or butter. But, they aren't exactly nut-free.... actually lots of nuts are used to make these particular cookies. And because of that, it's not exactly the cheapest cookie to whip up either. At the same time you will need to look past the required 3 cups of sugar that is needed for this recipe. But you can breathe a bit easier because the sugar isn't the granulated kind of sugar, rather the powdered kind... so that's a bit of a relief:). In any case, I do think the cookies are well worth making from time to time, just because they are so good.... and well, they're different. Unique, really. It's hard to make a chocolaty, chewy cookie with a fudgy interior and a shiny, crackly, crispy exterior. Not many cookies fit that category. Must mention that these cookies are extra chewy when eaten frozen(sort of like a candy bar).... yet, they can be soft and chewy at room temperature. An upscale sort of cookie:)...
The nice thing about these cookies is that they're "giftable"... great for the gluten-intolerant and really for anyone who loves chocolate. Not your run-of-the-mill cookie. And you can easily adjust flavoring to preference if you like. While I chose to add some orange peel to mine, you can definitely add some mint, raspberry, rum, etc... or leave them plain with only the vanilla extract. We absolutely loved these cookies. It's actually become my husband's new favorite cookie.... well, one of his favorite:). Hope you enjoy...
Note: The outcome of this recipe completely depends on your egg whites. Even though the original recipe used 4 large egg whites, I ended up using 3 ex-large egg whites weighing 90 grams total. The recipe will be affected, if using different-sized egg whites.... such as medium, small, etc. You can start with using 2 large egg whites, and then slowly add the rest, one at a time.... you may or may not need to use all 4 large egg whites. This depends on the humidity that day, and how you weighed out the ingredients(original recipe uses cup measurement... I added the grams, as I measured).The mix should look like thick brownie batter, that can be scooped and not spread out too much when placed on the cookie sheet.... definitely not runny.
You will need: adapted from Francois Payard... makes about 21 (1 1/2 TBS size) cookies... gram measurement noted as I measured it.
2 3/4 cups(275 grams) walnut halves
3 cups(300 grams) icing sugar
1/2 cup + 3 TBS(55 grams) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder( I used Hershey's DARK)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ex-large egg whites(90 grams), at room temperature*
1 TBS vanilla extract
zest of an orange, optional
* mine were 2 days old and taken straight from the fridge
melted white chocolate
Preheat oven to 350 deg F.
1. Spread the walnut halves on a large-rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven(350 deg F) until golden and fragrant....for about 6-9 minutes. Do watch the nuts, they tend to burn easily... best take them out a bit earlier than having burnt nuts. The nuts continue to cook as they cool on the baking tray.
2. Let the walnuts cool slightly, and then transfer the walnut halves to a food processor.
3. Process walnuts until medium coarsely chopped( somewhere in between the size of wheat kernels and pieces of split peas... the best I could do in describing:).... basically not too fine, neither too coarse. Should take a few pulses in the food processor. Alternately, you can chop walnuts by hand.
4. Set walnuts aside... and get other ingredients ready.
Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and lower temperature to 320 deg F.
Line two large-rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
1. In a large bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, the cocoa powder and salt until combined. Add the chopped nuts. (I like to do this in my KitchenAid mixer bowl., but you can use a hand electric mixer on low speed... or use a hand whisk.)
2. While whisking, (change the speed to medium if using an electric mixer), add the egg whites, vanilla extract , and orange peel, if using( or other extract of choice).
3. Beat just until the batter is moistened (do not overbeat or it will stiffen).... You may wan tto scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure there aren't any unmixed sugar/cocoa. The mixture should be reminiscent of a thick brownie batter... scoopable.
4. Using a 1 1/2 TBS cookie scooper( or use a spoon), scoop cookie batter onto the baking sheets evenly spaced mounds.... about 2 inch apart.
5. Bake for 7-8 minutes.... shift the pans from top to bottom halfway through baking to ensure even baking. Bake an additional 7-8 minutes or until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked... Total baking time from start to finish should be close to 14-16 minutes. I ended up baking mine for 14 minutes total.
6. Let cookies cool completely on wire rack( with parchment paper)... I like to gently release the cookies off the parchment paper while the cookies are still warm from the oven... I feel the cookies release off the parchment paper much easier that way and then I allow them to cool completely.
7. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. I like to freeze mine.... especially like the cookies the next day... flavors and texture improves.