Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chocolate Featherweight Cookies with Nuts and Cocoa Nibs

I found this recipe on Orangette and was totally inspired, in part because I love cocoa nibs and in part because here was a cookie recipe that was not only gluten-free, but also lactose-free (there’s no butter). Eggs are used to form a meringue base. There are a lot of nuts in there, though, and the Engineer and I usually aren’t that fond of nuts in cookies. But I’m not sure you could just remove them from the recipe altogether, because these cookies need something for consistency, and the cocoa nibs may not be enough. I might try them again with no nuts, more nibs, and make smaller cookies – but I’m not sure how that would turn out. The other problem is that they don’t stay fresh very long. They were delicious and chewy when they were still warm, but they turned rubbery-chewy by the next day. A hermetically-sealed container for storage is a must, and don’t make them too big (the recipe I give here makes about 15 large cookies, but smaller cookies might be better if they won’t be eaten right away).

I didn’t have enough walnuts, so I used almonds too. And I used cocoa nibs that I *finally* found at the Jean Talon market. Unfortunately, they only had two tiny boxes, which I bought, and there’s only about ¼ cup per box. So I used one for this recipe, but there are so many recipes that I want to make with cocoa nibs that it’ll be hard to decide where to allocate the rest. I hope the store at JTM restocks soon! Otherwise, if any of you know where I can get a decent amount of them (like by the pound, seriously), please share. I also tried this brand of vanilla I happened to find on one of my exceedingly rare trips to Costco – it was ridiculously cheap (just a smidgen more expensive than the little bottle pictured next to it), but is real vanilla extract made with beans from Madagascar, and the vanilla comes before the alcohol in the ingredient list!

¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 ¾ cups walnuts (or other nuts), coarsely chopped
¼ cup cocoa nibs

Preheat the oven to 350 °F and set a rack to the middle position. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (do not grease the sheet, do not use a silpat).

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, and salt, taking care that there are no lumps.

Combine the vanilla and egg whites in a measuring cup or mug, and slowly add them to the cocoa mixture, beating at low speed.

When you have added all the liquid, continue to beat at medium speed for about 2 minutes, until the batter is glossy and smooth. It will be fairly thin but quite viscous.

Stir in the walnuts and cocoa nibs.

Using a medium (roughly 2 Tbsp) ice cream scoop, place 5 mounds of batter about 3 inches apart on the baking sheet. The batter will spread.

Slide the pan into the oven, reduce the heat to 325 °F, and bake the cookies until small, thin cracks appear on their surface, about 14-17 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and cool them completely on a rack.

When they are cool, peel them gently from the parchment paper. Repeat the process with the remaining batter, increasing the oven temperature to 350 °F before each round. It should take three rounds total to use all the batter. (You can also use two different baking sheets and rotate them to go faster.)

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