Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies and Old Adages

As the old adage goes you get what you pay for. Sometimes though, when things are just a dollar you don't even get your money's worth. I  I had been perusing around for a really good Easter celebration flourless cake when I happened to stumble upon these little guys. These cookies were simple, flourless, and pretty light in calories (toting only 55 calories a cookie! I know!) So I got sidetracked on the Easter recipe hunting and decided to get my whisk and bowl out for these cookies.  I went to the store and got the remaining ingredients I needed on the list to make these immediately. It wasn't until I got home that I realized I had forgotten to get parchment paper! I was so overjoyed to see that I had happened to pick up a box of it a couple weeks ago. I recently purchased some parchment paper for a dollar at a store that will remain nameless (Although, I am sure you can guess the name).  Little did I know what would ensue...

Everything was going well until.....that darn parchment paper. These suckers stuck like nobody's business. So I apologize for the ugliness of the photos, but I can tell you that even though a few curse words got thrown around (ok a lot got thrown around) and I had to finally give up on the last cookie on the sheet they still taste pretty amazing.  They will remind you of the top of a brownie pan. If you cut off the crunchy top of a pan of brownies so you still got some gooeyness underneath, you would have these cookies. Let's just say even though they did not win best in show that did not stop anyone from scarfing them down.

I adapted the recipe I found from Smitten Kitchen by reducing the amount of walnuts from 2 3/4 cups to 2 cups. I used chopped walnuts, which probably results in a lot more walnuts since I measured them that already chopped. I decided to save myself the step of having to chop them later.  I also then added in 3/4 cup of miniature chocolate chips for some extra chocolatey-ness. I decided to additonally boost the chocolatey flavor by adding in a 1/2 teaspoon of espresso powder. The consistency of these cookies will remind you of your favorite brownie mix as well. These cookies poof up and will collapse after you take them out. Don't worry they are suppossed to do that.

So as another old adage goes do as I say (make these cookies) and not as I do (in other words, don't buy cheap parchment paper and think you can get away with it).

Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies
Originally adapted from Francois Payard's Chocolate Epiphany

Yield: 20 to 24 2-inch cookies
2 cups walnuts, chopped
3/4 cups miniature chocolate chips
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Spread the walnuts  on a large-rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 7-8 minutes, until they are golden and fragrant. Let cool slightly. (If you choose to use walnut halves, you may need to keep them in the over for an extra minute. After cooling, coarsely chop them.)
Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and lower temperature to 320. Line two large-rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk (or combine in an electric mixer on low speed) the confectioner’ sugar with the cocoa powder, salt, and espresso powder followed by the chopped walnuts. While whisking (or once you change the speed to medium), add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened (do not overbeat or it will stiffen).
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; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through to ensure even baking. Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto 2 wire racks. Let cookies cool completely, and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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