Friday, October 23, 2015

Flourless Chocolate--Walnut Cookies, Ultra-chocolatey!

“Gluten-free” has become almost a food fashion statement in recent years, but I am always wondering how someone can live without good pizza, pasta, baguette, croissant and many delicious sweet creations.

After many years in the business of providing "real food," I now receive increasing requests for gluten-free meals. I am trying to understand that there are quite a few people who need specific diets, but it seems to me that in most cases these are instances of dislikes or dieting fads, rather than medical necessity (I have heard many… “I am a vegetarian, but shrimp is OK,” or “I cannot have sugary foods, but ice cream is an exception,” etc.). Rather than debating the merits or legitimacy, I just try to offer what people request.

As a matter of fact, there are many cuisines that don’t use much, if any, wheat/gluten ingredients, such as Japanese, Mexican and Indian cuisines. Even France has its famous soufflé, clafouti, chocolate mousse and many other low-or no-wheat specialties.

Anyway, this cookie is for everyone – whether you eat gluten-free, or don’t. When you bake these cookies your entire house will smell like warm chocolate ... perfect for the cooler season. Yes, chocolate season is coming!

And be sure to save those egg yolks... for pastry cream, flan or crème brûlée – all good, traditional and gluten-free!

Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies, Ultra-chocolatey

Recipe adapted from Chocolate Epiphany, by François Payard

Makes 36 cookies

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups walnuts, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
1 cup of dark chocolate chips

Position 2 racks in the upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In a medium-size bowl, combine the cocoa powder, sugar and salt. Mix well and stir in the walnuts. Add the egg whites and vanilla. Mix until the mixture has slightly thickened. Do not overmix. Stir in the chocolate chips.

With a one-ounce ice cream scoop or tablespoon, drop the batter onto baking sheets. They will be about 2-inches in diameter. Bake cookies until tops are lightly cracked and glossy, about 15 minutes.

Repeat with remaining batter. Store in an airtight container or cookie jar at room temperature for up to a few days.

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