What better way to celebrate the end of our refined sugar fast, than by baking something sweet for my honey on Valentine's Day weekend? If you don't live under a rock, surely you've noticed that for the last several weeks you cannot turn around without bumping into a decadent dessert. Because it's February, the recipes for sweet treats have been ubiquitous. I was torn between a couple of persuasive recipes for "mini chocolate desserts" in this month's Sunset, and about 47 other beautiful ideas found on the many fantastic food sites I love to read. In the end, I decided on this recipe for "Chocolate Puddle Cookies" from one of my favorite sites, 101 Cookbooks. What intrigued me about these, was that they are flourless and butterless. That's right - cookies free of flour and butter. How is this possible? Because they have an indecent quantity of confectioner's sugar. The description read that they are somewhere between a fudge brownie and a soft meringue. That did it for me. It took me all of about 3 seconds to think, "Hmmmmmmm, OKAY!"
These were a complete success, but I have to stress that not under or over baking here is key. If you underbake, they will stick to the parchment paper and fall apart as you try to remove them after they've cooled. If you overbake, the tops will be too crispy. As amazing as they were, I must admit they were just a tad too sweet for my taste. If you love chocolate and really sweet cookies, you won't be disappointed. They'd also make a great dessert for someone who doesn't eat gluten or dairy.
3 cups walnut halves, toasted & cooled
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 tablespoon high-quality vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 320F degrees and position racks in the top and bottom third. Line three (preferably rimmed) baking sheets with parchment paper. Or you can bake in batches with fewer pans.
Make sure your walnuts have cooled a bit, then chop coarsely and set aside. Sift together the confectioner's sugar, cocoa powder, and sea salt. Stir in the walnuts, then add the egg whites and vanilla. Stir until well combined.
Spoon the batter onto the prepared sheets in mounds of about 2 tablespoons each, allowing for PLENTY of room between cookies. These cookies really expand. Don't try to get more than 6 cookies on each sheet, and try to avoid placing the batter too close to the edge of the pan.
Bake until they puff up. The tops should get glossy, and then crack a bit - about 12 -15 minutes. Have faith, they look sad at first, then really blossom. You may want to rotate the pans top/bottom/back/front.
Slide the cookies still on parchment onto a cooling rack, and let them cool completely. They will keep in an airtight for a couple days.
Makes 18 large cookies.
From 101 Cookbooks.