As much as I'd like to pretend otherwise, the truth is that I do not always handle disappointment with the utmost grace. I'd love to be the sort who accepts bad news with a sunny shrug, and then rolls up her sleeves and moves on to the next task. But the truth is that I often spend several hours mourning the loss of Plan A before I can even think about moving on to Plan B. Which brings me to flourless chocolate walnut cookies.
This past weekend I attended a delicious Sephardic-style Passover Seder, full of saffron pilaf, Tunisian fish patties with aioli, spinach-feta minas, and good friends. My host asked if I would bring chocolate-covered matzoh caramel buttercrunch, known to all who enjoy it as matzoh crack. It's ridiculously addictive, the sort of dessert you almost don't want to make, because it is all anyone will ever you to make ever again. Well, for Passover at least.
I headed out to the grocery store with this singular vision, but couldn't find any matzoh. I figured my matzoh-finding skills must have been on the fritz, and sought out some assistance:
me: I'm sorry, I can't seem to find the matzoh.
manager: We're sold out.
me: Are you joking?
manager: Why would I joke about that?
Yes, they were sold out of matzoh. On Passover. So did I cruise the shelves looking for alternate dessert inspiration? Did I phone a friend to get a shopping list for a new recipe? Of course not. I fumed out the door and biked home, composing angry letters to the grocery store management in my head all the while. Because that's helpful. And then I proceeded to reenact the above conversation to several people, both in my home and on the telephone, and share my indignation. And then I remembered Oh yeah! I still have to make dessert! Like now!
After all this attempted-matzoh-getting and protracted-hissy-fit-throwing, I didn't have time to go shopping again. Luckily I remembered a recipe I'd seen a few years back for a flourless chocolate cookie studded with toasted walnuts. I had all the ingredients in my house, and the mixing and baking times were nice and short. And the cookies? Divine.
If you're seeking a chewy chocolate gluten-free (or Passover-friendly) cookie, look no further. They're ridiculously simple--just some toasted walnuts, powdered sugar, cocoa powder and egg whites, spiked with a bit of salt and vanilla. Because the egg whites are just stirred in rather than beaten, you end up with a cookie that's fudgey-chewy rather than meringue-crisp. They're glossy and chocolatey, and taste much more sinfully rich than they are. Not getting what you planned on should always be so delicious.
Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies
adapted from Payard, via New York Magazine
yields ~4 dozen cookies
2 3/4 cups walnut halves or pieces
3 cups confectioners' (aka powdered) sugar
1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp cocoa powder (Dutched is recommended)
1/2 tsp salt
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, ~7-10 minutes (check frequently!). Let cool slightly, and coarsley chop. Set aside.
Reduce the oven temperature to 320 degrees, and line two baking pans with parchment or Silpat liners if you have, or grease well and hope for the best. Set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the chopped nuts, stir, and then add the egg whites and vanilla. Stir until just combined (do not overmix). Let the batter sit ~5 minutes.
Spoon the batter onto the prepared cookie sheets in heaping tablespoons (allow space--cookies will spread). Bake 14-16 minutes (rotating racks halfway through), until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked. Remove from oven, and let set a few minutes until the cookies are cool enough to remove. Remove to a rack to cool completely, and repeat with remaining batter.