Directly from original recipe from François Payard. The cookies contain no flour, so are gluten-free and Passover friendly. Because the recipe uses egg whites, there is a sort of meringue chew – combined with texture from the walnuts - and the inside is moist and fudge-y. The crackle top retains the shiny quality. It is gorgeous to look at, and tastes heavenly. Making this recipe can be a bit more fun if you know a bit about it's history. View related blog post: Feb. 25.2015
Servings: if you drop the batter by teaspoonfuls, you might get close to 48 cookies; I often make only half the recipe.
Preheat oven to 350 F degrees (or 320 F - see Tips);
Prepare baking sheets (see Tips); Recipe is easy - but lots of tips.
2 ¾ cups walnut halves
Spread the walnut halves on a large baking sheet and toast in a 350 F oven for about 9 minutes, until they are golden and fragrant. Let cool slightly, then coarsely chop - largest pieces should be about the size of a thumb tack. (Do not whiz in food processor.) Then turn the oven temperature down to 320 F in prep for the baking.
3 cups icing sugar
½ cup + 3 TB Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¼ tsp salt
Mix icing sugar, cocoa, and salt in a bowl by hand/using a whisk. Stir in walnuts.
4 egg whites
1 TB vanilla extract
Lightly whisk egg whites and vanilla - by hand. Add to dry mix and combine either using a fork or an electric mixer on medium - until batter is just moistened. There may be a moment when you think there is not enough liquid, but keep in mind that most of the dry mix is icing sugar and it dissolves nicely one the egg white is added. Do not over mix batter or it will stiffen.
Note that your oven should have been preheated to 320 F. As the related blog post mentions, Payard makes only 24 large cookies out of this recipe - dividing the batter across 2 baking sheets. I make smaller cookies, dropping the batter by the teaspoonful on parchment-lined baking sheet(s) in evenly spaced mounds. The cookies may spread only a tiny bit, but do not crowd the mounds. Bake cookies until tops are lightly cracked and glossy. Recipe says 14-16 minutes if making only 12 giant cookies per sheet. I do 10-11 minutes for the smaller cookies. Rotate baking sheets at half-way mark. Repeat with remaining batter until it is all used - as mentioned above, you may get 3-4 dozen. Cookie tops will be glossy and slightly cracked. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week - if they last that long.
Notes and Tips...
- Preheat oven - if toasting the walnuts preheat to 350 F, and then reduce to 320 F after walnuts are done. If walnut toasting step is done beforehand, then preheat the oven to 320 F.
- Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper. The batter may spread a bit so take that into consideration. With 12 on a sheet – that could mean 3-4 batches in/out of the oven - one or two at a time. If doing two baking sheets at once, in a convection oven, position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of oven – otherwise place rack in middle of oven. Baked / cooled cookies can be hard to remove from parchment so good idea to lightly coat parchment with non-stick spray.
- Mixing - can mix by hand using whisk or fork as appropriate to stage; do not over-mix
- Walnuts - purchase fresh; flavour improves with some toasting; never chop before toasting; toasting / chopping can be done beforehand
- Cocoa powder - original recipe uses Dutch-processed cocoa - see info on cocoa
- Egg whites - should be at room temperature; if using egg whites in carton - be sure to shake well each time before using; see egg white info
- Batter consistency - take care not to over-mix, but if batter is too runny, try refrigerating it for 5-10 minutes
- Drop Batter - I usually do this by the teaspoonful; sometimes use one of my scoops - 1.5-2 tsp; original Payard recipe - he divides the recipe into 24 cookies and they result in 4" cookies!
- Sticking? - if baked cookie is hard to remove from parchment, use a thin tool such as an off-set spatula to remove / avoid breaking cookie; lightly spray parchment to prevent this.
- For KB Recipe Attribution Practices please click here.