Last week, I tried a variation of Payard’s Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies. Deep, dark chocolaty, “chewy, gooey,” gluten-free, even–a bonus for two of my girlfriends. I substituted pecans for walnuts and added ground espresso and white chocolate chips. OK, cool. Game on.

Imagine my surprise when I put the cookies in the oven.
They did not spread out.
They did not form cookie-like shapes.
They maintained their hunk of dough forms and…did not bake.
Whatthe?!

Hmmm--rocks!

Nothing like going out to buy special Valrhona chocolate for baking, only to open the oven door to discover there isn’t a whole lot of baking going on. Quick–turn up the oven to 330! That’ll fix it. No, not quite. Hmmm, just three more minutes, maybe. OK, five more.

Long story short: I baked a dozen chocolate rocks. Remember, this is why the Italians call them biscotti–it’s their fancy word for rocks (kidding!). The rocks were quite tasty, but I didn’t intend to bake jawbreakers. Thankfully, my mom thinks they’re the best rocks ever and has been enjoying them dunked in tea.

Problem solved!
Afterwards, I discovered I had used three egg whites instead of the four the recipe called for. But having baked six cookies after the initial rocks, I can tell you, that wasn’t the biggest problem–that was the temperature. The key? Toast the pecans at 350 degrees F, then maintain that temp as you put the cookies in the oven. Once the cookies are in the oven, drop the temperature to 325 degrees F. Be sure to bring the oven back to 350 degrees F for each new batch, then drop it back down. Thanks to both Danna and Caitlin McGrath on Chowhound for helping me to troubleshoot. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/651981#5453566

Using Danna’s recipe and tips as my guide, along with the Payard recipe, I made very minor tweaks and successfully baked the following:

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE COOKIES
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 ½ cups confectioners sugar
1 ½ teaspoons ground espresso
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups pecans, toasted, then coarsely chopped
1/4 cup white chocolate chips (will use 1/3 cup next time)
7 raspberries (will use ¼ cup next time)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 9 minutes, giving them a shake about halfway through, till they are fragrant. Let cool slightly, then coarsely chop the nuts.

Whisk together cocoa powder, confectioners sugar, ground espresso and salt in a bowl.  Add chopped pecans. Slowly add egg whites and vanilla to cocoa/nut mixture. Beat batter at medium speed until glossy, about 2 minutes. Do not overbeat. I added 7 raspberries, somewhat afraid to add a whole ¼ cup. Next time I’ll be brave. Smash each raspberry into the side of the bowl with a fork. Stir in white chocolate chips.

Use a tablespoon to drop batter onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment. Leave some space between the cookies because if the temperature is right, the batter will spread. Put baking sheet on middle rack of oven, then reduce temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake until small thin cracks appear in tops of cookies, 15 to 18 minutes. 18 minutes will give you a crispy cookie.
Around the 15 minute mark produces a cookie with a chewy, brownie-like texture.

Cool cookies completely on baking sheet on a rack and peel from paper.

Ready to bake!

You want this!

HOW ‘BOUT A MEXICAN CHOCOLATE VARIATION?

Omit the raspberries and white chocolate, and add:
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ancho chili powder
¼ teaspoon chipotle

Spicy and delicious, hot chocolate!

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