I was reading the New York Times magazine and there was an article about an eccentric millionaire who is trying to live to 125 by eating peels of fruits and basically starving himself. His one indulgence? A flourless dark chocolate cookie with walnuts. What? No recipe? I was appalled — and inspired to hunt for one. I had immediately started craving these “antioxidant rich” cookies which were so good that even this guy who was able to skip all delicious foods couldn’t resist them.
When you are looking online for a flourless cocoa-based cookie with nuts, all roads lead to Francois Payard (here is the New York magazine version of his recipe). Basically, you are beating egg whites with cocoa and powdered sugar and adding nuts and baking. But you know me, I never met a recipe I didn’t feel the urge to tamper with! And I had an accident while separating egg whites (should I rename my blog “The Careless Chef”?) so I had to change the recipe. I did toy with the idea of just halving the recipe (since I only had two eggs left) but what fun is that? I amended it instead.
See below for my version of this famous recipe — with the caveat that if you don’t chop the toasted walnuts (I didn’t) some of your cookies may look like…what we used to refer to as “dookie” in the schoolyard of my youth, a term everyone now understands thanks to local heroes, Green Day. Also — this cookie was so sticky it defeated my Silpat. Use parchment instead and plan to go through a lot of it since you will have to toss each sheet and use a fresh one for each batch (wasteful — I know).
Even adulterated (or maybe because it was?!) this recipe is amazing. The cookies are a hybrid between the inside of a good fudge brownie and candy. They are related to the abstemious meringue cookie because they are practically fat-free (if you leave out the walnuts and discount the tiny bit of fat in the cocoa) but the variety of flavors — from sticky chocolate to crunchy nut — reaches the highest level of eating ecstasy. If this is what antioxidants taste like, bring them on!
Flourless Fudge Brownie Cookies
(adapted from Francois Payard)
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey’s but you can use the fancy kind — and argue for hours about Dutch-process vs. not!)
3 cups powdered sugar
2 egg whites
3 tablespoons almond flour (I used Bob’s but you can grind your own — or use more egg whites and skip it)
6 tablespoons fresh orange juice (you could probably use soy or almond milk here too — I just accidentally used too much cocoa powder and needed more moisture!!!!!)
4 cups toasted walnuts (I didn’t chop mine, but probably should have)*
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Half a box of parchment paper
Preheat your oven to 350.
Mix all ingredients in a big bowl. If you have a paddle mixer, use that. I did this by hand because my fancy Kitchen Aid mixer is at my Mom’s and it worked just fine that way.
Put parchment on your cookie sheets and place blops of cookie concoction that are no bigger than a quarter about 2 inches apart. Trust me on this. If they are too big, chaos ensues.
Bake about 15 minutes until the tops crack. Leave on the parchment on a baking rack to cool or you won’t be able to peel them off of the paper.
Yields about 3 to 5 dozen cookies
*I toasted the walnuts in the oven while it was preheating for about 8 minutes.