These cookies come from renowned patissier Francois Payard, who says: "Their crackled surfaces give them an elegant look, and because they are so easy and take barely any time to make, are great for last-minute entertaining. They have a slightly crunchy exterior and a soft, almost brownielike interior. They should be only about 1/2 inch at their thickest."
Make Ahead: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days or wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months.
Servings: 12 large cookies
- 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 3 cups confectioners' sugar
- Pinch salt
- 2 3/4 cups walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped (see NOTE)
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Place racks in the upper and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Combine the cocoa powder, confectioners' sugar, salt and walnuts in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed for 1 minute.
With the mixer running, slowly add the egg whites and vanilla extract. Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes, until the mixture has thickened slightly and looks lumpy. Do not overmix, or the egg whites will thicken too much.
Use a 2-ounce cookie or ice-cream scoop, or a generous tablespoon, to scoop the batter onto the prepared baking sheets. Scoop 5 cookies onto each sheet, spacing them about 3 inches apart so that they don't stick when they spread. If you have extra batter, wait until the first batch of cookies is baked before scooping the next batch.
Transfer the baking sheets to the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 320 degrees. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the pans front to back and top to bottom about halfway through baking; small, thin cracks will appear on the surface of the cookies. Pull the parchment paper with the cookies onto a wire cooling rack, and cool completely before removing the cookies from the paper.
NOTE: To toast the walnuts, spread them on a baking sheet and place in a 350-degree oven, shaking the sheet occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully; nuts burn quickly.
Adapted from "One Sweet Cookie: Celebrated Chefs Share Favorite Recipes," by Tracey Zabar (Rizzoli, 2011).
Tested by Mary Pat Flaherty.
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