These cookies. These cookies are some of the naughtiest cookies I’ve ever come across. They should be declared illegal – they’re that good. I actually feel irresponsible for sharing the recipe with you. These cookies were brilliantly conceived by one of my favorite food bloggists, Heidi Swanson. And they are aptly named because when you bite into one of these cookies it’s like sinking your teeth into a warm, oozing puddle of chocolaty, nutty goodness. I substituted half the walnuts with pecans, which transformed these cookies into holiday-celebration cookies, because if a chocolaty pecan pie cookie was made, this would be it.
I try to convince myself into believing that it’s ok to eat these cookies because there exists some nutritional merit in them. They contain lots of nuts and no egg yolks or butter. Thus, they are low in bad cholesterol and high in good cholesterol, right? Whatever. Who am I fooling? I’m perfectly willing to temporarily sacrifice my blood sugar levels for something this good. These cookies are very sweet (like marshmallows), soft and gooey in the center and a bit chewy around the edges. They are somewhat light in texture and the tops crackle when you bite into them. If you pay close attention you can taste the caramelized confectioners sugar on the bottom of each cookie. These are the kind of cookies you grab for breakfast because even though you know you shouldn’t, you simply cannot resist.
Heidi’s Chocolate (Pecan) Puddle Cookies
Adapted from 101Cookbooks by Heidi Swanson
Makes about 2 dozen large cookies
Ingredient notes: Heidi made it a point in her post to list specific brands of confectioners (powdered) sugar that she’s used successfully in this recipe, so I figure I should as well. She successfully tested both 365 organic powdered sugar from Whole Foods and Hain organic powder. I used Domino Confectioners Sugar with equal success. Heidi prefers non-alkalized cocoa powder made by Scharrfen Berger or Dagoba. I used a non-alkalized organic cocoa powder by Rapunzel. Heidi also reported equal success with a Dutch-processed cocoa powder by Droste.
1 1/2 cups (5 ounces) walnut halves
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecan halves
4 cups (1 pound) confectioners (powdered) sugar (see headnote)
1/2 cup + 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder (see headnote)
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt (or non-iodized salt for low-iodine dieters)
4 (or 5) “large” egg whites, room temperature
1 tablespoon really good-quality vanilla extract
- If you haven’t done so yet, take 5 large eggs out of the refrigerator and set them on your counter-top so that they can come to room temperature.
- Toasting the nuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread walnut and pecan pieces on a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Place baking sheet in the oven and toast nuts for 8 to 10 minutes, shaking the pan or stirring the nuts halfway through the cooking time. You want deeply toasted, barely unburned nuts. Check the oven repeatedly to catch the nuts at just the right time. Once perfectly toasted, remove the nuts from the pan and spread them out on a large plate or a cool baking pan so that they stop cooking and can begin cooling to room temperature.
- Lower the oven temperature to 320 degrees F. Using well-insulated oven mitts, reset your oven racks to the top and bottom third of your oven (i.e., If your oven has 5 rack slots, place the two racks in the second and fourth slots). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Sift the powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt into a large bowl. Unless you have a super efficient sifter, be patient with this process because powdered sugar tends to get lumpy, hence making the sifting process that much more important. I found it helpful to use two different sifters, pouring the contents from one into the other when the first sifter clogged up. I also recommend covering the top of your sifter with either aluminum foil or plastic wrap, otherwise your kitchen will soon be filled with large clouds of powdered sugar.
- When the nuts have fully cooled down, coarsely chop them then add to the sifted sugar-cocoa mixture. Stir.
- Combine four egg whites and the vanilla in a small bowl. Stir and add to the sugar-cocoa-nut mixture. Using a rubber spatula, mix by hand until the liquid ingredients are just combined with the dry ingredients. If, after mixing for a minute, you find that your mixture is still a bit dry, add an extra egg white (for a total of 5), like I did. Give the first 4 egg whites a chance first though (I suspect that, in my case, my farm-fresh eggs may have been a tad bit smaller than standard grocery store eggs).
- Drop two-tablespoon-sized mounds of batter onto the parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving a 3-inch border around each mound. These cookies will expand significantly, so leave plenty of room around each cookie. Spacing no more than 6 cookies evenly on a standard 10 x 15 inch baking sheet works beautifully.
- Place the two cookie trays in the oven on the pre-positioned racks. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, reversing the positions of the cookie sheets halfway through baking by switching from top to bottom and turning each sheet 180 degrees front to back. The cookies are done when they have puffed up quite a bit and their tops look glossy and are cracked in a few places.
- Slide the cookies while they are still on the parchment paper onto cooling racks as soon as you pull them out of the oven. Once cooled, they will keep at room temperature, wrapped tightly in aluminum foil, for up to 3 days.
Suzy’s tweaks 11/14/10:
I made these again today. I used all walnuts instead of a combination of pecans and walnuts. The recipe above now reflects my minor adjustments (increased cooking times and an addiitional tablespoon of cocoa). Similar to the last time I made these, I had to add a fifth egg white in order to create a workable batter. I’m also convinced that toasting the nuts to a golden brown color is key.