Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chocolate Puddle Cookies

"Love is not too strong a word to use here. I fell hard for this cookie," wrote Heidi Swanson when she posted this Chocolate Puddle Cookie recipe to 101 Cookbooks last year, and I could not agree more. This recipe has been my go-to cookie for bake sales, potlucks, and out of the blue chocolate cravings ever since. What's its secret? Cocoa powder and roasted walnuts create a rich fudgy feel, but thanks to whipped egg whites and confectioners sugar, the cookie remains light and airy.

The liquidy "puddle" batter produces a gorgeous cracked surface that when gently pulled apart presents an irresistible gooeyness. Baked for only 12-15 minutes, the prep time is even less.  Your best bet is to use a natural unsweetened cocoa powder; its intense flavor will harmonize nicely with the powerful nuttyness of the toasted walnuts.

Due to a lack of  flour, this chocolate puddle cookie is gluten-free. It also features a wealth of health benefits thanks to the polyphenols in the chocolate: Cocoa's flavonoids, a natural phenolic compound also found in fruits and vegetables, reduce oxidative stress. The physiological results are anti-inflammatory and bad-cholesterol-lowering activity, plus a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.

Chocolate Puddle Cookies
Yield: 18 large cookies

3 cups walnut halves, toasted & cooled
4 cups confectioner's (powdered) 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 real, good-quality vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 320F degrees and position racks in the top and bottom third. Line three (preferably rimmed) baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Chop cooled walnuts 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.
3. Spoon the batter onto the prepared sheets in mounds of about 2 tablespoons each, allowing for PLENTY of room between cookies. Try to avoid placing more than 6 cookies on each sheet, and placing the batter too close to the edge of the pan.
4. Bake about 12 -15 minutes: until the cookies puff up; the tops should get glossy, and then crack a bit.
5. 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.

Lamuela-Raventós, R. M. "Review: Health Effects of Cocoa Flavonoids." Food Science and Technology International 11.3 (2005): 159-76. Sage Journals Online. Http://fst.sagepub.com/content/11/3/159.abstract. Web. 28 Nov. 2011.

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