Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Adapted from François Payard /SELF Magazine December 2008 via Bea Grossman

Parchment paper
2 1/2 cups walnut halves
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350°, and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper

  1. Finely chop the walnuts on a cutting board, or carefully pulse-chop them in a food processor. The nuts should be chopped small, but not reduced to dust.  Transfer to a separate large baking sheet and toast until fragrant and a bit darker in color, about 7-9 minutes. Check the nuts every two minutes, and shake the pan, to make sure they don’t burn.  Let them cool to room temperature.
  2. Sift the sugar, cocoa and salt into a bowl to remove any lumps and clumping. Whisk together to combine, and set aside until the walnuts have cooled.
  3. Stir in the walnuts.   Add the egg whites and vanilla; combine  with a wooden spoon until the batter is just moistened. Do not overbeat the batter, or it will stiffen.
  4. Drop batter by the teaspoonful, 2 inches apart, onto baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Bake cookies until tops are lightly cracked and glossy, about 15 minutes.
  6. Remove cookies from baking sheet immediately, and place on cooling racks.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Makes approximately 40-50 cookies

NOTES: Unless you have a convection oven, you’ll have to bake these cookies one tray at a time.  Also, make sure you use the parchment paper, as the cookies will stick to the pan if you

Cooking 101

Danger Will Robinson!

It’s that most wonderful time of the year, when we all hang out in our kitchens and create some (hopefully) great food.  Okay, maybe not all of us do it.  But this is the time of year when new and semi-experienced cooks can get into trouble because they’re doing what I’ve been suggesting for years: reading recipes.  I still encourage everyone to read recipes.  But you sometimes have to be unknowingly careful.

Unknowingly careful?  Well, I just read a guacamole recipe by a famous cookbook author and tv chef.  She recommends taking the pit out of the avocado, and then removing the skin.  So far, so good.  Then things get shaky.  She recommends putting the avocado in a bowl, and dicing it with a knife.  Really?  If someone does that, they’ll either mangle the knife, or their fingers.  The last time I checked, that’s why we have cutting boards.

Then there was the hugely famous tv chef and cookbook author who, in a national and free magazine with a zillion readers, suggested that a new cook make hash brown in a cast iron skillet, and halfway through the cooking, “flip them over.”  Really?  Hmmm.  I think just as the hash browns were either airborne or sliding off of a breaking plate being used for the flipping, the new cook might be reconsidering trying their hand at cooking ever again.

So here’s my advice: if you’ve never made the recipe before, look it over, and visualize any steps you’ve never tried before.  If they seem odd, then they probably are.  Figure out the result that you want, and follow the path of least resistance.  And the also follow the path that will let you keep your fingers and thumbs intact.