Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Moist, chewy, flourless cookies are all about the chocolate

Not only is chocolate the star of this recipe, it practically is the whole recipe -- and the better the chocolate you use, the better the cookies will taste.

I used dark Belgian chocolate. Nuts are the other major component in these cookies. I used some of my stash of Missouri pecans, which I froze soon after they were  harvested last fall.

If you don't have local nuts on hand -- or Belgian chocolate, for that matter -- use whatever tastes good to you. You can even make this recipe with milk chocolate instead of semisweet or dark.

What's missing from this recipe is almost as notable as what it contains. These cookies are made without flour (meaning they're gluten free), vanilla or other flavorings, and egg yolks.

These are basically meringue cookies. Over the years, I've made several other versions, all made with cocoa powder. Those were good, but these are even better.

Yield: About 30 cookies

3/4 cup pecan halves
6 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 egg whites, at room temperature (see note)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated or superfine sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Toast pecans in a large ungreased skillet just until they become fragrant and begin to brown, stirring frequently and watching closely. Transfer to a plate and let cool completely, then chop finely. Set aside.

Place chocolate in a medium glass bowl. Place over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl. Cook, stirring frequently, until melted. Set aside to cool. (Alternately, melt chocolate in the microwave at 80 percent power, stirring every 30 seconds and watching carefully to prevent burning.)

Place egg whites and salt in a large mixing bowl. Beat on high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, slowly add sugar in a thin stream. Beat until sugar dissolves and stiff, glossy peaks form, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Scoop about 1 cup meringue into cooled chocolate. Stir gently with a whisk until well combined. With a flexible spatula, scrape chocolate mixture into the remaining meringue. With the whisk, fold gently until no streaks remain. Sprinkle nuts over meringue mixture; fold gently with the spatula.

Using two spoons, drop mounds of meringue on cookie sheets, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between cookies. Bake until cookies are set and no longer shiny, about 10 to 12 minutes. If baking two racks at once, switch them from the top to bottom shelf and rotate the sheets from front to back after 6 minutes.

Slide parchment onto wire racks; let cookies cool completely before removing from parchment. (Cookies will be fragile.) Store in a tightly sealed container.

Note: Eggs are easier to separate when they are cold. Let the whites warm to room temperature before you beat them.

Adapted from a recipe created by Dierbergs.

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