If given the option of roasting a chicken or baking a cake, I'll always choose the chicken. It's not that I don't love sweets (oh, I do), it's that cooking is more fun to me than baking. I'm not a measure-and-weigh kind of cook. I like tasting as I go, improvising, not having to follow a recipe precisely and pay really close attention.
I always serve dessert when I have people over, but as you might have noticed, it's often in the form of fruit crisps, ice cream, or the quickly-assembled fruit-chocolate-cookie plate. All of which are good, easy options. I feel like cakes call for celebrations, but that's just me.
But then there's the rare day when I get the baking itch. I'm not sure where it comes from or why, but when it happens, I have turn on the oven and make something sweet. Justifying making a dozen plus cookies or a whole pie when people aren't coming over is a little hard, but I am handy with excuses. Last weekend, the craving struck the day before I had a black-tie event to cover for work—and a cute but, um, snug dress to wear. I truly did not need cookies in my life. But it was rainy, and I had nothing better to do that afternoon, and I had all of the ingredients. And I also wanted to stay in and bake and look at this sweet face before his owners came to collect him. Excuses, excuses.
There was some almond flour in the cupboard that needed to be used up, but I was craving something chocolatey. Googling "almond flour chocolate cookies" didn't produce much in the way of recipes, so I decided to wing it. If the cookies didn't turn out, I would get this baking impulse out of my system and I didn't need to eat them anyway. (Lie.)
As far as cookies go, the recipe was pretty simple. I melted some chocolate, then stirred in a cup of almond flour, some sugar, and some almond extract. While the mixture cooled, I beat two egg whites until they formed soft peaks. Then I gently folded the chocolate-almond mixture into the egg whites, spooned the batter onto cookie sheets, and baked them for about 15 minutes.
The result? Delicious! The cookies came out thin and chewy, with a rich, brownie-like flavor. Dan and I ended up eating quite a few, but, really, they weren't so decadent. No butter, not too much sugar, and no flour. They're not so unhealthy or fattening as far as cookies are concerned. Or maybe I'm just really good at talking myself into things.
Flourless chocolate-almond cookies
(Makes about 2 dozen small cookies, or 1 dozen large)
6 oz. chocolate chips (dark or semi-sweet)
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. almond extract
1 cup almond flour (You can buy it pre-ground or make your own in a food processor)
pinch of salt
2 egg whites, room temperature
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Put the chocolate chips in a small pot and heat them over very low heat. Stir the chocolate constantly until it is melted, then remove from the heat. Add the sugar, almond extract, almond flour, and salt to the chocolate. Stir until combined and let it cool. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until glossy, soft peaks form. Gently fold small amounts of the chocolate-almond mixture (it will be thick) into the egg whites until the batter is smooth. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Spoon out the batter in balls about 1 inch wide, and place them 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets because the cookies will spread. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are slightly puffed in the center and crisp around the edges. Let cool before removing from the parchment. Sprinkle the cookies with a bit of confectioner's sugar to make them look pretty.