So I had some egg whites to use up. The last few weeks I've been running down my supplies, eating my way through the contents of my freezer, the bulk of which is surplus stock of whatever meals I've made in the last week, or month or (more likely I suspect) months, plural. In theory I should enjoy - not to mention find convenient - retrieving something delicious that's available to me instantaneously (or at least, in the time it takes to resurrect it in the microwave) but the truth is, I miss cooking. Food somehow doesn't taste the same when it's prepared with a bing rather than a hiss or a chop or a bubble. So imagine my excitement when I found, tucked away behind the catering company quantities of chicken soup (prepared for a monster cold that never eventuated) and solid blocks of Bolognese, a little ziplock bag labelled EGGWHITES X 2. As it happened, just that week, in a bout of serious food blog procrastination to fill the cooking void, I'd come across a recipe for chocolate puddle cookies.
The name alone was enough to make me look, the accompanying image further encouragement. Having made them, I now know it was no false advertising. These cookies are seriously good, their crisp, cracked exterior giving way to a moist, chewy centre. Miraculously, they manage to have an intense chocolate flavour without the usual heaviness that accompanies such an indulgence because they're made without butter or flour. Not that I'm averse to either but some people are, so it's good to have a recipe up my sleeve that satisfies their needs without compromising my own sense of identity (as an eater of all good things).
My freezer is empty now, my little kitchen a hemisphere away. I won't be cooking for a while but I've got lots of recipes stored up to share in the weeks ahead. Hopefully it'll be as therapeutic as finding those eggwhites.
Chocolate puddle cookies
Adapted (barely) from 101 Cookbooks
These take no time at all to make. You do have to toast and chop the walnuts but there's no beating of the egg whites. When I made them, I misread the quantity of vanilla and used 1 teaspoon instead of 1 tablespoon to no ill effect so if you want to use less (that stuff is so expensive!) I'm here to tell you it works out just fine.
Gluten-free folk who might be wanting to give this a try, I'd encourage you to check the ingredients on the packet of your confectioner's sugar as some - not all - are cut with a type of starch.
3 cups/11oz/310g walnut halves, toasted, cooled, and chopped roughly
4 cups/1 lb/453g confectioner's (icing) sugar
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons/2oz/60g unsweetened cocoa powder (I used good quality Dutch)
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (or a bit less regular)
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 160 deg C (320 deg F) and position racks in the top and bottom third. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. Or you can bake in batches with fewer pans.
Sift together the confectioner's sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the walnuts, the egg whites and vanilla. Stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.
Spoon the batter onto the prepared sheets in mounds of about 2 tablespoons (1 heaped Australian tablespoon) each, allowing for plenty of room between cookies. Don't try to get more than 6 cookies on each sheet, and try to avoid placing the batter too close to the edge of the pan.
Bake until they puff up. The tops should get glossy, and then crack a bit - about 12 -15 minutes. You may want to rotate the pans top/bottom/back/front.
Slide the cookies still on parchment onto a cooling rack, and let them cool completely. They will keep in an airtight for a couple days.
Makes 18 large cookies.