Crackling Chocolate-Walnut Cookies

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img_1151img_1148 I’ve been meaning to bake for a while, but time and equipment have interceded. But there was a birthday coming up at the office, and I had an evening that I felt like whittling away with a little project. I tried to slyly figure out my coworker’s dessert preferences, and made little headway. I did, however, figure out cakes weren’t in great favor, so cookies it was, mostly because I figured that a baking sheet was a better investment than a tart pan. I have a small stack building of virtually dog-eared recipes I’ve worked up. This one from Orangette won, the lack of both flour and butter intrigued me. Instead, it uses egg whites for structure. These cookies have a lot to love--chocolate, a crackling, brownie-like crust, good chew. Nonetheless, they're not perfect. I reduced the sugar by a half cup; next time, I might do it a bit more. I’ll let you know if sitting overnight develops the flavor more, but you surely want a quality cocoa powder. The original recipe had no cinnamon, but it did have cocoa nibs rather than chips in it. I love me a nib, but there was no where this side of the park where I was going to find them at 9pm. I’m also trying to be economical, and those little buggers don’t pay (dollar wise, you know). If you live in the Bay Area, an 8:45pm trip to Rainbow can yield a tiny package of nibs from the bulk aisle—the perfect solution. Play with this recipe a little and report back! img_1171 Crackly Chocolate Cookies Adapted from Orangette ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder 2 cups powdered (confectioner's) sugar 1/8 tsp salt 1 Tbs pure vanilla extract 4 large egg whites, at room temperature 1 ¾ cups walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped (or pecans? or hazelnuts?) ¾-1 cup of chocolate chips (or cocoa nibs) A pinch of cinnamon, to taste Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and set a rack to the middle position. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large 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 separate container, then slowly add them to the cocoa mixture, beating at low speed (this yielded a small snow storm. Be warned). When you have added all the egg mixture, continue to beat at medium speed for about 2 minutes, until the batter is glossy. It will be a bit thin but viscous. Stir in the walnuts and chips/nibs. Using a medium ice cream scoop or a deep spoon, 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 degrees, and bake the cookies until small, thin cracks appear on their surface, about 14-17 minutes (I kept checking, since my cookies varied in size). 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 degrees before each round. It should take three or four rounds total to use all the batter. Yield: 14-20 large cookies img_11522img_1169