I am an unabashed gluten fiend. Few things are more appetizing to me than a chewy piece of foccacia fresh from the oven or a slice of cherry pie with a perfectly flaky pie crust; both of which are difficult to achieve without gluten’s springy web-like structure. Shocking exactly no one, I go through far more than my fair share of flour in an average month. Yet despite my steady long-term relationship with this white powdery demon, I find myself frequently craving these flourless chocolate walnut cookies.
While chocolate cookies may not be the first thing that comes to mind for an ideal treat on a balmy spring day, let me nudge you towards the kitchen to bake up a batch of these admittedly homely cookies. They are surprisingly light in texture due to the absence of butter and flour, and their deep dark chocolate flavor is allowed to shine.
Undeniably delicious unadorned, these really standout when paired with a creamy counterpart in the form of milk. Or, if you’re feeling particularly decadent, sandwiched around vanilla ice cream (directions follow the recipe).
Bonus points: bake up a batch for your favorite gluten-intolerant friend, just make sure to save a few for yourself.
Make sure to toast the walnuts*, it creates a much deeper flavor. Honestly, these are a bit finicky to bake, I’ve made them at least a dozen times, and still they don’t come out perfectly every time; the line between perfect and overcooked is fine here, set a timer and check often and success will be yours. I err on the side of under-baked as I like these to have textural contrast from the crisp edges to gooey brownie-like centers. These make an exceptional ice cream sandwich, I particularly like the Häagen Dazs 5 vanilla bean ice cream, but feel free to experiment! These cookies are great for mailing, as they keep well when stored in an airtight container due to their moist chewy texture.
Adapted, just barely, from a Francois Payard recipe in SELF: December 2008
Yield: ≈ 3 dozen cookies using a 2 tsp scoop
2 ½ cups walnut halves, toasted
3 cups powdered sugar
½ cup + 3 tbsps unsweetened cocoa powder (either natural or dutch-process)
½ tsp kosher salt
4 egg whites
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°. Prep two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.
Finely chop the walnuts.
Sift together the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the walnuts. Add egg whites and vanilla extract. Mix gently, only until combined (overmixing will create a tough cookie).
Using a small cookie scoop (size 60) drop dough on prepped cookie sheet**. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until the tops are just glossy. Allow cookies to cool until handleable and remove to cooling rack to stop the cooking process (the sheet pan will stay hot for a while and these cookies really are make or break depending on their level of doneness).
* Roast the walnuts in a single layer on a sheet pan at 350° for 7-10 minutes, or until their perfume fills the air. This method works well for other nuts and seeds, adjusting the time for size (if I’m toasting something smaller such as chopped walnuts or pine nuts I set the timer for 5 minutes and go from there).
** I really recommend using an ice cream scoop/disher as it helps to create uniform sized cookies, but have made these successfully by dropping dough from a tablespoon, just keep the mounds small and as uniform in size as possible so that they are all done at the same time.
A few homemade ice cream sandwich tips:
Thoroughly chill the cookies in an airtight container in the freezer; this helps to reduce ice-cream melt.
15 minutes prior to assembly take out the ice cream and allow it to soften on the countertop so that it will be more spreadable.
Spoon ice cream onto one cookie, press together with the other and refreeze (to allow the ice cream to harden and minimize dripping) for about 30 minutes (or more) prior to consumption.