I like to say I was born with a stainless steel thumb - my culinary equivalent of the green thumb - and that's a lucky thing for me since my passion in life is food and cooking, and everything that comes a long with it.
What do I do with my life? I dream food, think food, look at food, read about food, work in the food business, travel via food, talk about food, use food as my artistic muse, teach others about food, and clearly, cook, play with and EAT food!
Food is my compass.
So it seems to be that time of year again....for cookies! Don't get me wrong, cookies are appropriate any time of the year, but wintertime always gets me into the baking mood. There are a few household staples, plus a few rotating goodies, and anything found that looks particularly delicious. That being said - at any given time, there could be innumerable amounts of sugary goodness lurking throughout the house. We have the infamous Fruitcake Cookies - the holidays just wouldn't be the same without them (that sometimes get "healthified" with home-dried and roasted fruits, and Ezekiel Cereal), peanut butter kisses, standard ops sugar cookies, and for the past few years, Flourless Chocolate Walnut cookies. Granted, this is not my recipe - it's Francois Payard's (shucks) - but they are so outrageously delicious that everyone should be able to taste them at least once in their life! They're gluten-free, some like to claim "fat-free" with no addition of butter or oil (sound's rather Snackwell's to me), but most importantly, absolutely stunning! That being said, go buy the best cocoa powder you can find, and HOP TO IT!
Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies
2 3/4 C walnut halves
3 C confectioners’ sugar
1/2 C plus 3 T unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder - Valrhona's not too shabby
1/4 t salt
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 T vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spread the walnut halves on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant, about nine minutes. Let the nuts cool slightly, then coarsely chop them. Lower the oven temperature to 320F. Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper or a silpat.
In a large bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar with the cocoa powder and salt until combined, followed by the chopped walnuts. While whisking, add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened (do not overbeat or it will stiffen - you don't want meringues!).
Spoon the batter onto the baking sheets in 12 evenly spaced mounds, and bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked. Halfway through baking, rotate the baking sheets. Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto 2 wire racks, and let the cookies cool completely. Test out a few! The remained can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days - if they can last that long.
These cookies really are amazing - they're almost like lighter textured brownies in a way! Using better cocoa powder really does make a difference with these cookies as well, so if you're willing to splurge a bit, it's worth the extra dollar. I must say, I am thankful for Mr. Payard for giving this recipe out to the public - everyone will go crazy for these.