A scene from winter: half a dozen or more teenagers – neighbours – had been out playing in the snow on a school-day, laughing like little kids as they plowed each other’s faces into white powder and formed rough snowballs with chilled fingers.
After a while, I invited them in to warm up with hot chocolate and cookies.
There was a stampede at the door. Boots tumbled together on the front porch, hats and mittens dripped in the laundry room.
The kids collapsed like puppies on too few chairs, and slurped their drinks. I felt like some anachronistic mixture of Betty Crocker and Martha Stewart as I whipped trays of cookies out of the oven.
Thick coffee-cocoa scent floated to the table. Hopeful teenagers looked up as one. I plated a few cookies, handed them to the nearest long arm.
Silence. Then melty sighs. Then a chorus of these-are-so-goods that would warm any kitchen witch’s heart.
When several different teenagers ask you, several times, “What kind of cookies are these?” you know you are onto something.
These are that good – chewy, light texture, dense with flavour. And they are gluten-free. Of course. But you won’t know it to taste them – they aren’t missing a thing.
2-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (sift this if it’s lumpy)
1/4 teaspoon salt (I use grey sea salt)
1 (heaping) teaspoon espresso powder
1 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-process (with alkali) or natural
3 large egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Whisk together the sugar, salt, espresso powder, and cocoa. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together the egg whites and vanilla, fluffing the egg whites only a little.
Add the dry ingredients to the egg whites, and mix at low speed with electric mixer for 2 minutes. The batter will seem dry at first, but will quickly become shiny and smooth.
Cover the bowl, and refrigerate the batter for 3 hours, or up to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. (If you have a convection oven, preheat to 335°F.)
Place a Silpat on a baking sheet. If you don’t have a Silpat, line with parchment paper or grease the pan. Drop the dough by teaspoons onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving plenty of room to spread.
Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes, reversing the pans (top to bottom, bottom to top) midway through. (If you have a convection oven, bake for 9 or 9-1/2 minutes (you know your oven), and no need to reverse the pans.)**
Remove from the oven, and cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.
Yield: two dozen (or more) 2″ cookies
** These cookies don’t keep very well – they lose their tender, chewy texture if they are stored for more than a few days. I tend to bake just one pan at a time, and keep the extra batter in the fridge for a couple of days, rather than baking them all at once.
Unless there are hungry teenagers around on a snow day afternoon.