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Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies

Crisp and chocolatey cookies always win me over. This gluten-free version by the famous French baker extraordinaire, Francois Payard, is everything you can imagine. The meringue makes them chewy and the nuts give a crisp texture. Admittedly, the more than 2 cups of powdered sugar isn't the best option, but these cookies are for special occasions.

Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Keyword chocolate, cookie, gluten free
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 16 minutes
Total Time 26 minutes
Servings 12
Author The Cowgirl Gourmet adapted this recipe by Francois Payard


  • 2 3/4  cups walnut halves and pieces pecans would also work
  • 2 1/4  cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the walnut halves on a large-rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 9 minutes, or until they are golden and fragrant.
  2. Let the nuts cool slightly, then transfer them to either a work surface and coarsely chop them or toss them in a food processor for a few seconds.

  3. Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and lower the temperature to 320. Line two large-rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. (To ensure the cookies can be removed from the parchment, consider running a damp pastry brush over the back of the parchment paper before you lay it down on the cookie sheet.)
  4. In a large bowl, whisk (or combine in an electric mixer on low speed) the confectioners’ sugar with the cocoa powder and salt followed by the chopped and cooled walnuts.
  5. While whisking (or once you change the speed to medium), add the egg whites* and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened (do not overbeat or it will stiffen) [*Here it is important to beat for about one minute—otherwise, the egg does not become meringue-like but more of a flat cookie].
  6. Spoon the batter onto the baking sheets in 12 evenly spaced small mounds (they will spread significantly), and bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through to ensure even baking.
  7. Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto 2 wire racks. Let cookies cool completely, and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days (but they surely won't last that long).

Recipe Notes

I added a cup of shredded sweetened coconut to half the batch and they were divine…like chocolate-coconut macaroons—with walnuts.

*Somewhere online I found this comment written by the person at Payard who actually tested all the recipes for the book where this recipe is originally found. She writes:

I see that some people had very good results and some not so good. This recipe completely depends on your egg whites. If you are using large eggs, medium eggs, etc., it will make a huge difference. Start with using 2 egg whites, and then slowly add the rest. The mix should look like a thick brownie mix that can be scooped. Depending on the day...how cold, humid, not humid, your product will change a lot, as do all pastry recipes. Don’t add all your whites at once, and check for the consistency first, if you don’t use all the whites, it is OK. I hope this helps. At Payard, we want everyone to have a positive review on our recipes, especially these cookies, since they are a huge hit in the store @ Payard. Good luck.