Have you ever been to Payard? Me neither. I mean, it's so far away it might as well be in another country. Like Canada. It's the Upper East Side, people! That's FAR. I think you need a passport to get there (in my mind). XOXO!
I've actually walked to the Met from my apartment (several times), but for some reason I've never been inclined to walk to Payard. I imagine getting there all hot and sweaty and then not wanting to sample a delectable delight from the patisserie. What a (potential) waste! ('Cab' isn't really part of my vernacular unless it's after midnight.) That, and I think I have a slightly tainted memory of François Payard from a cooking class I once took. Well, it was more of a demo where he made stuff, and we the audience, watched and then sampled. He kept referring to the women in the room as "homemakers" and I wondered when the demo had turned into an episode of The Wonder Years or Leave It To Beaver (June's probably more homemaker-y than Norma). And then I thought, "Oh, that's cute. He isn't trying to be offensive. He's just French! It's a lost in translation thing." I wasn't really personally offended as I barely had a home to make at the time, so therefore he couldn't possibly be referring to me. It was all of those other women. They must have been mad!
Fortunately my laziness has been rewarded by a simple cookie recipe from Payard that I found some time later. (I have actually made a chocolate tart from that "class" several times that is always delicious.) It's essentially a 5-ingredient recipe, like my peanut butter cookie, but SO incredibly and delightfully different. My only small complaint is that it is a bit too sweet for me, so I would recommend cutting back on the 3 cups of confectioners' sugar the original recipe calls for. I would also appreciate biting into a chunk of chocolate along with the crunchy walnuts and chewy, chocolate cookie center, so I advise adding some dark chocolate pieces as well. I don't think François would mind a homemaker taking liberties like that, but if so, c'est la vie.
Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies
(Adapted from Chocolate Epiphany)
2 3/4 cups walnut halves
2 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped high-quality dark chocolate
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spread the walnut halves on a large-rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 9 minutes, until they are golden and fragrant. Let cool slightly, then transfer the walnut halves to a work surface and coarsely chop them.
2. Lower the oven temperature to 320˚F. Line two large-rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar with the cocoa powder and salt, followed by the chopped walnuts and chocolate pieces. Whisk in the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened (do not overbeat or it will stiffen).
3. Spoon the batter onto the baking sheets in 12 evenly spaced mounds per sheet, 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. Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto 2 wire racks. Let the cookies cool completely, and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Makes 24 cookies.