chocolate cookie shout-out
After seeing mention of chocolate nibs a couple of times on the food blog Chocolate & Zucchini, I picked some up at Kalustyan's, the brilliant Indian and Middle Eastern spice shop and grocery in Murray Hill. Chocolate nibs are roasted and crushed cocoa beans, with no sweetness and no smoothness. They add crunch and raw chocolate flavor to whatever you add them to. Then a couple month's ago, Orangette consoled herself, after a sub-par chocolate cake, by adapting a foolproof chocolate cookie recipe, featuring the crunch of walnuts and chocolate nibs. I made a small batch yesterday, to try out the nibs, and the recipe, and they were excellent.
The recipe (here) is surprising for a cookie. Perhaps you recall my earlier posting about cookies and scones, where I talked about flour and butter being essential components of a cookie? Well these cookies have neither. They're essentially a flat meringue, with the bulk of the cookie made of egg whites and powdered sugar. A meringue is a concoction made of whipped egg whites sweetened with superfine sugar and baked at a low temperature to dry without browning. This cookie uses non-whipped egg whites, so they're not airy, and powdered sugar, which has a bit of cornstarch in it which presumably helps thicken the cookie. After beating those two ingredients together, along with cocoa, vanilla, and salt, you get a batter that's more similar to a sticky cake batter than to a cookie batter. You then dump in the chocolate nibs and a bunch of walnuts chopped to about the same size, and bake them in a moderately low oven on parchment paper. That last part is important--the cookies are fragile and will stick like glue to a baking sheet, and carefully peeling them off the parchment paper is the only hope of keeping them intact. But it's worth it, as the perfectly circular cookies look like they were made by a pro, even if the picture is taken with a cell-phone camera. And they taste fantastic too; a worthy challenger to oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies. Kudos to Molly at Orangette.