Many of my friends have a perennial list of holiday cookies that they religiously prepare consisting of heritage recipes and family favorites. They are tried and true treasures that everyone looks forward to receiving.
I have a few regulars, but I also like to throw in a little variation, too. Often there is some sort chocolate cookie, since an assortment is not complete without at least one, and I can never settle on one that completely thrills me.
That could have all changed this year. In One Sweet Cookie, Tracey Zabar offers a Flourless Chocolate Cookie from Francois Payard Patisserie that speaks my language.
Granted, I’m probably one of the few who is not completely knocked out by chocolate. For most folks, the more chocolate, the more intense, the better. I have absolutely no problem with the delicious flavor and nuances of chocolate, it is that heart arresting wallop that most chocolate sweets seem to offer.
If you had to categorize this cookie, I suspect it would fall close to a macaroon. The beauty of Payard’s cookie is that it simply consists of a few egg whites, dutched cocoa powder, confectioners’ sugar, a big hit of vanilla extract, and plenty of nuts. With the addition of egg whites no further leavener is required. And much like an old-fashioned macaroon the whites are not beaten into a fluffy mass, they are simply stirred into the batter. This recipe mixes up in a hurry!
The beauty of using cocoa powder is there is no melting or tempering of chocolate. Dutched cocoa powder also produces a well flavored, darkly colored product. In the dutching process much of the fat is removed and alkali is introduced to adjust resulting bitterness and acidity. You get a big chocolate hit without the damage.
Thanks to the hefty amount of nuts (I substituted pecans for the suggested walnuts) the final cookie turns out rounded, very moist and chewy—much like a brownie. I can’t imagine this cookie without the nuts. I also reduced the humongous size of Zabar’s cookie to a manageable 2-1/2 to 3 inch cookie. It is still a heavenly mouthful!
Flourless Chocolate Cookies
1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp cocoa powder, Dutch-process, (I used Guittard)
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 3/4 cups walnuts, toasted, roughly chopped (I used pecans)
4 large egg whites, room temperature
I Tbsp vanilla extract (I used 2 Tsp vanilla paste)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place racks in upper and bottom thirds of oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
- Combine cocoa, sugar, salt, and walnuts in bowl of electric mixer with paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 minute.
- With mixer running, slowly add the egg whites and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for 3 minutes until it has slightly thickened. Do not over mix, or it will thicken too much.
- Using 1 oz scoop or large tablespoon, scoop the batter onto the sheets to make 2-1/2 to 3″ rounded cookies, about 2″ apart. If there is extra batter, wait until first batch is baked before scooping 2nd batch.
- Place cookies in oven and immediately lower temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 10 minutes and rotate the sheets, bake an additional 8 to 10 minute until cracks begin to form on surface. Don’t over bake. Carefully remove cookies with spatula onto baking rack to cool. Yield: about 20, 2-1/2 to 3” cookies.