I had planned to post this recipe before Christmas. But somehow, inevitably, my plans went awry. So here I am two days after the festivities, wishing you and yours a belated Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays with a batch of special cookies from my kitchen to yours to ring in the New Year.
From intricately decorated cookie varieties to beautifully frosted cakes, the holiday season inspire us to indulge in all manners of sweet treats, right? I for one have been slightly obsessed with baking sweets this month. If you remember, I started off this month with chocolate caramel slice and now I’m ending it with chocolate walnut cookie. Rightly so. Just don’t brand me a chocoholic, I really outgrew my chocolate craze a longtime back.
This cookie recipe is a splendid treat for anyone on gluten-free diet. It’s not only gluten-free (GF) and grain-free, it’s dairy-free too—perfect for anyone who is lactose intolerant. Wait, that’s not the best part. For a gluten-free, dairy-free recipe it’s not at all intimidating—you don’t need to go shopping for GF flour or other mysterious ingredients to make these cookies. Really. The ingredient list is remarkably short—just 6 familiar items you might have in your own pantry that can be mixed and baked without too much work. This’s absolutely why this recipe is so attractive.
Now then, who can resist a gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free and pretty delicious foodie treat? Something that’s chocolaty too? Not many, I know.
I fell in love with the name, chocolate puddle, when I first saw it at Heidi’s 101 cookbooks. I noticed that the ingredients listed nuts too. Chocolate and nuts, now I just couldn’t resist. That’s when I researched into this intriguing recipe on the internet and landed on the original François Payard’s Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookie recipe. François Payard is a celebrated pastry chef who used to run the, now closed, Payard Patisserie & Bistro bakery in New York city. Apparently, his flourless chocolate walnut cookies were a huge hit in the store. This popular recipe is also featured in his book Chocolate Epiphany.
Crunchy, crisp exterior and chewy, fudgy, chocolaty interior studded with flecks of walnut—it turns out, these cookies are halfway between a meringue and a brownie. After my first bite, I thought they tasted close enough to one of my macron mishaps in the past. The omission of egg yolks and use of just whites give them this meringue quality, with the chocolate and nuts adding to the gooey, fudgy character. All in all, sugar, chocolate and nuts come together in this chewy giant sized treat that make them perfect for dunking into your tea, coffee or milk.
Talking health, these cookies contain hero foods—cocoa and nuts. As you know, cocoa is high on antioxidants. And nuts are no longer a dietary foe—they contain healthy oils, fibre, vitamins and minerals, and when used in moderation will not lead to weight gain. Going nuts, especially walnuts, is good for diabetes peeps. For all it's health benefits, unfortunately, these cookies are high on carbs (read sugar) and are not recommended for anyone with a blood glucose intolerance. They are not overly sweet as the massive 2 cup sugar indicates. Sweetness is really mild, so there's no way you can cut down the sugar in the recipe.
I had such fun time making these, especially delighting in the heady scent of chocolate wafting from the oven and later making the most of the festive season by giving small parcels to few lovely neighbors. My friend Shaily was my taste tester for this recipe. I always make a point to get new recipes tested by someone besides my family and myself as I am, truthfully, focused on the outcome before I post it on the blog. I appreciate honest feedback and Shaily was good enough to rate this a 95 out of 100, with my Anzac bikkies scoring 99 in her opinion for it’s chewy, addictive taste. Yes, Anzac is a crowd pleaser—I remember all the amazingly positive feedback I’d received when I shared it with few other friends in our compound.
Now, if you are celiac, before you start mixing and baking, remember to check the label of powdered sugar to ensure it is gluten-free. Similarly, lactose intolerant people should make sure that the chocolate, if using, is dairy free.
Hosting a New Year’s party, are you? Then serving dessert couldn’t be any easier than layering a few crushed cookies with macerated berries, scoops of ice cream and a generous drizzle of rose syrup (I used Roof Afzah). It’s a treat, trust me.
Chocolate Puddle Cookie
Makes 18 giant cookies
Prep 20 minutes, Cooking 15 minutes
1 ½ cups walnut halves
2 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup plus 1 ½ tablespoon cocoa powder (I used natural cocoa, not Dutch processed)
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1 tablespoon chocolate chips (optional)
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
scant ¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 3500F/1800C. Spread the walnut halves on a large baking tray and toast in the oven for 9-10 minutes until golden and fragrant. Let cool, then transfer nuts to a clean work surface and coarsely chop them.
Meanwhile, combine egg whites in a spouted cup; set aside.
In a large bowl, blend sifted cocoa powder, sugar and salt using a fork—the powders are so fine that they tend to fly out of the bowl if you are using a whisk. Tip in vanilla and egg whites. Using a hand held electric mixer whisk everything together until just moistened without over beating as it will stiffen. The batter should look like a thick brownie mix. The key is to add half the egg white to start with, check consistency and then slowly add the rest to make a thick goopey, scoopable batter, not runny. Now stir in walnuts and chocolate bits, if using.
Lower oven temperature to 3250F/1600F and position rack in the middle of the oven. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spoon tablespoonful of batter on to baking sheet in evenly spaced mounds leaving heaps of space in between—at least 3 inches. These cookies really expand, so err on the side of precaution. Bake for 14-17 minutes until cookies are puffed up with glossy, lightly cracked tops. Cookies will seem a bit soft when you take them out of the oven. They firm up as they cool, so be careful not to overbake them.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet for at least 5 minutes. Then slide the parchment to wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, peel cookies off the parchment carefully.
Repeat the process with the remaining batter.
Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for 3-5 days.
Good for nibbling, giving, or perfect for entertaining holiday guests—mix them, bake them and share them!
Before I sign off, let me wish you all a healthy, happy, prosperous and most wonderful New Year ever. Let us welcome 2012 with lots of good spirit, great company and plenty of delicious food.