We're celebrating Erik's birthday tonight with a dessert party--I decided to take it easy on myself! Nantucket (along with the rest of the northeast!) has been experiencing some pretty wild weather this weekend (driving rain and 50 mph winds, anyone?), and about half our (potential) guests were off-island this weekend, so I can't tell whether it's going to be a small crowd or a big(ger) one. Which of course makes planning a nightmare. If all invited guest do arrive...well, maybe the cake just won't be big enough (no, I'm sure it will, I just like to worry). If, on the other hand, the 6 people who were off-island are stuck there, then, well, plenty of dessert to go around. All this fake worrying is just an excuse to make more cookies though. Let's be honest.
Since the main event tonight (Chocolate-Espresso Semifreddo Cake, recipe forthcoming) isn't exactly what one would call...what's that word...? Oh, right, healthy. Since it's not healthy, I thought I might cater to the more health conscious folk and make a batch of cookies that were featured in an old issue of Self magazine that I found sitting on my bedroom floor: Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies. Quick and easy and entirely pantry staples, at least for me. The "healthy" part is that they just use egg whites as a binder, so the only fat comes from the nuts, which are heart-healthy. And if you've ever read the nutrition facts on unsweetened cocoa, you'll know that it's virtually fat free, contains fiber, as well as those dark chocolate antioxidants. Of course, the sugar ensures that they're still yummy enough to be considered a cookie, and I wouldn't say eating one of these cookies is comparable to eating, say, and apple, but as far as cookies go, they're tasty without being too sinful, and best enjoyed with some cold milk.
Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies (Adapted from Self Magazine, December 2008)
Makes about 15 big cookies, or 30 Self-sized cookies
* 1 1/4 cups raw walnut halves (i.e., not toasted or salted)
* 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
* 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 Tablesppons unsweetened cocoa powder
* Pinch of salt
* 2 egg whites (or 1 egg, if you don't mind the egg yolk)
* 1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
2. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Roughly chop the walnuts, spread them out on the cookie sheet, and toast for 9 minutes, then cool.
3. In a mixing bowl, sift together confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, and salt .
4. When walnuts have cooled, chop them finely, then add to dry ingredients.
5. Add egg whites and vanilla, and mix until the ingredients are just combined. Initially it may seem like there isn't enough liquid, but the sugar and cocoa will dissolve into the egg whites soon enough.
6. Using a cookie scoop or spoons, dollop the batter onto parchment paper or a silicone mat--I used a medium OXO cookie scoop (probably between 1-2 tablespoons of dough), Self recommends "rounded teaspoons." Let your own cookie conscious be your guide!
I got to use my new cookie scoop!
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, tops should be shiny and cracked. Definitely err on the side of underbaking though, so they remain chewy in the center. Allow to cool on the sheets. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. Enjoy!