Bittersweet Chocolate & Toasted Walnut Cookies Perfecta Mundo!

Bittersweet Chocolate and Toasted Walnut Cookies Perfecta Mundo!

I was walking down 10th avenue in the Pearl district, just north of downtown Portland, Oregon when my nose went into high alert.

The compelling aroma of melted chocolate, toasted walnuts, and vanilla pulled me down the block, through a nondescript doorway, and then down a flight of stairs to, BEHOLD, a tiny French bakery tucked into the basement of a building. The sign said, Nuvrei.

There, just behind the itsy-bitsy counter was a rack of over-sized, just-baked, crackle-surfaced, bittersweet chocolate cookies. The friendly young baker said they were called Flourless Chocolate Cookies.

I bought one and my life hasn’t been the same since. For one thing, I find myself walking down 10th avenue almost every day, a route I rarely walked previously. The aroma hits me about a block away from the bakery and carries me helplessly along, until the next thing I know, I’m sinking my teeth slowly into one of those crispy-chewy, impossibly chocolaty cookies and then trying to conceal the low moaning noises that seem to be emanating from my vocal cords.

The cookies are around $3.50 each and it’s a mile and a half walk to get one, so at some point I began to think about making them myself. I poured through the dozens of chocolate cookbooks on my shelves, but not one had a flourless chocolate cookie.

I thought about contacting the owner of Nuvrei and begging the recipe off him. “Oh please sir, I can’t walk a mile and a half every day for a cookie and have developed quite an addiction you see and really must have one of your cookies EVERY day, so if you would be so kind as to share the recipe with me, I will name my daughter’s first born after you.”

Then, just as I was about to do something desperate (like apply for a job in the bakery), I spotted a chocolate cookbook at Powell’s Books that I didn’t already own: Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard. I flipped to the index and there it was: Flourless Chocolate Cookies. I bought the book, hopped the streetcar home and turned on the oven.

Adding the Walnuts to Bittersweet Chocolate and Toasted Walnut Cookies

The resulting cookies were exceedingly wonderful and exceedingly close to the flavor, texture, and look of Nuvrei’s chocolate cookies, but not EXACTLY. One difference I could easily correct: Nuvrei’s cookies are noticeably salty. I LOVE that. However, Nuvrei’s cookies are also a little thicker and that factor was a bit more difficult to remedy.

Bittersweet Chocolate and Toasted Walnut Cookies Scooped and Ready for Baking

Francois Payard’s batter is comprised of only three key structural ingredients: premium unsweetened cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and egg whites. It has the texture of chocolate syrup and spreads out considerably on the baking sheet, especially at the edges. Adding lots of walnuts helps to hold the batter in place, but the edges still have a tendency to spread. In one test, I used English muffin rings to confine the spread of the cookies and that had the desired effect, except on the edges, which were then straight, ½-inch thick, and not crisp. The cookie looked more like a thin, round brownie.

I wondered what effect chilling the batter before shaping and baking the cookies would have on the shape and texture. If I ran a bakery, for efficiency sake, I would whip up large batches of batter and then bake the cookies off as needed, at least a couple of times a day. Perhaps that’s what Nuvrei does.

Anyway, I tried it and BINGO. The cookies were easier to shape, held a more uniform appearance while baking and were thicker when baked. They do require a longer baking time however, as they are cold when they go into the oven. If you use this method, add at least 2 minutes to the cooking time.

Bittersweet Chocolate and Toasted Walnut Cookie Results from Three Different Mixing and Shaping Methods

Above you see the original cookie batter recipe baked immediately after mixing, baked after chilling overnight, and baked immediately after mixing in an English muffin ring.

Bittersweet Chocolate and Toasted Walnut Cookies Ready for Baking in a Muffin Top Pan

Then I wondered what 2 additional minutes of beating would do to the batter and BINGO again. The batter was now firm enough to hold its shape when scooped onto the baking sheet. So much so that as a precautionary measure, I wet my fingers with cold water and pressed the domes down just a bit in the center. Because this method doesn’t require the extra time it takes to chill the dough, it’s the method I will use most often in the future. Combined with the use of a muffin top pan (described below), the cookies are about ½-inch thick, uniformly shaped, and crispy on the top and sides. In other words, perfecta mundo!

Bittersweet Chocolate and Toasted Walnut Cookies Baked in a Muffin Top Pan

Here you see the cookies baked immediately after mixing for 5, rather than 3, minutes.

Bittersweet Chocolate and Toasted Walnut Cookies Perfecta Mundo!

Bittersweet Chocolate & Toasted Walnut Cookies Perfecta Mundo!

Adapted from the recipe titled, Flourless Chocolate Cookies, in Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard. I highly recommend this beautiful cookbook.

This is the one cookie recipe you need for occasions when you want to really WOW your friends, family, or coworkers. It is sensational with a capitol S. However, sensational comes at a price and that price is your willingness to locate and then pay a shocking sum for premium cocoa powder. Yes, it makes a difference. A BIG difference. This is not the time to grab the Hershey’s.

For those of you who are prone to guilt, note that there is no flour or butter in these cookies. It’s interesting how much more vibrant the chocolate flavor is without these ingredients.

INGREDIENT NOTE   With so few ingredients, this recipe is the perfect vehicle to test the deliciousness of premium cocoa powders. There was a marked flavor difference, for instance between my tests using Green & Black’s cocoa powder and E. Guittard cocoa powder. They were both wonderful in these cookies, as evidenced by how quickly the cookies disappeared. But, for me, there is something extra appealing about E. Guittard cocoa. For the moment, it’s my favorite.

EQUIPMENT NOTE   I had difficulty getting a consistent shape and depth with these cookies until I remembered a pan I had seen at Sur La Table called a muffin top pan. With six, 4-inch shallow indents, this pan turned out to be just the ticket. The batter stays within the confines of the indents and bakes into perfectly round, ½–inch thick cookies. If you want irregular, thinner cookies, simply use a regular baking sheet.

TECHNIQUE NOTE   On another front, I noticed quite a bit of wailing on the web from folks who experienced difficulty with these cookies irretrievably sticking to the pan or the parchment paper. For me, the following methods all resulted in cookies that could be easily removed from the pan or paper: cooking spray-coated silicon parchment paper liner, cooking spray-coated nonstick foil liner, cooking spray-coated nonstick muffin top pan, and shortening-coated nonstick muffin top pan. In all cases, it is best to remove the cookies from the pan or the paper or foil while the cookies are still slightly warm (not too warm or they will break). Use a flexible spatula if necessary to loosen any stubborn spots.

3 cups powdered sugar, sifted (13 ounces)
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened, alkalized (Dutch-process) cocoa powder (2? ounces) (I tested with Green & Black’s organic alkalized cocoa powder and E. Guittard alkalized cocoa powder)
½ teaspoon fine sea salt

4 large egg whites, cool room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups walnuts, toasted for 10 minutes in a 350º oven, cooled, and then coarsely chopped (untoasted walnuts also work just fine)

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Mix to combine.
  2. With the mixer running, slowly add the egg whites and then the vanilla. Mix on medium speed for 3-5 minutes, until the mixture is somewhat thickened. (If you mix too briefly, the batter will be thin and runny. However, with a full 5 minutes of beating, the batter thickens to the degree that it holds its shape for several minutes when scooped onto the baking sheet.)
  3. Remove the work bowl, and scrape the batter from the paddle attachment. Stir in the chopped walnuts, and mix thoroughly. If you want to wait until later to bake the cookies, put the batter into a smaller bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
  4. Using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop, scoop level amounts of batter into each of the six indents of a cooking spray-coated nonstick Chicago Metallic Muffin Top sheet (to ensure the cookies don’t stick, you can cut rounds of nonstick foil with tabs to line the indents) or onto a cooking spray-coated, parchment paper-lined baking sheet, five cookies per sheet, about 3 inches apart.
  5. Wet your fingers with cold water and press down lightly on the center of each cookie, just to flatten the dome a bit.
  6. Put cookies into a 350º oven and immediately lower the temperature to 320º.
  7. Bake for 16-18 minutes for cookies in a muffin top pan or 14-16 minutes for cookies on a sheet pan. Turn the pan halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. The cookies are done when small cracks appear on the surface.
  8. Remove the muffin top or cookie sheet from the oven.
  9. If using the muffin top pan, put it on a wire rack to cool. When still slightly warm, lift the cookies from the pan with a flexible spatula.
  10. If using parchment paper, pull the parchment paper with the cookies onto a wire rack to cool. Immediately slide a thin spatula under each cookie to loosen it from the paper. When cool, remove the cookies from the parchment paper.
  11. Store cookies, layered between rounds of wax paper, in an airtight metal cookie tin for up to 2 days.

Makes twelve to fourteen, 4-inch cookies.

More Chocolate Recipes from LunaCafe:

Copyright 2009 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.

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  1. says

    Happy to discover this recipe blast from the past! It amazes me how much Portland has changed since I was a kid – I’d move back if it weren’t for all the rain :)

    Love that you skipped using butter in these flourless cookies – they look perfect!

    • says

      Alisa, these cookies are revelatory. And of course I discovered them in Portland.:-) And then back tracked to a possible source recipe, and then perfected that over several trials to get the perfect depth and texture. P.S. It’s not raining here today. :-)

  2. says

    so as you know we already love these cookies and your website is packed with great inspirational recipes. We have been baking cookies for the last two weeks in preparation for our son’s wedding in mid September – which like our own wedding 30 years ago, we are also catering…

    Have you ever heard of the cookie table tradition out of Western Pennsylvania and parts of Ohio?
    Mothers, Grandmothers, Aunts, Cousins, Sisters (and I am sure now Dads, Grandpas, etc) bake and freeze dozens of their prized repertoire of cookies and confectionary items and the cookies are displayed and eaten throughout the wedding.

    Check out my blog post on my own amazing cookie journey. I have linked many of your recipes, which were the first we baked for “our cookie table” starting 4 weeks prior the wedding date.

    Wanted to thank you for not only your wonderful recipes and generous sharing of ideas in food but also the meticulous notes such as “these cookies can be made 3-4 weeks in advance and age well”

    And your own playful inventiveness leaves your readers, or at least me free to make our own mark on these recipes and tweek them further.

    Life is a journey, food helps make it a more delicious one !
    Lisa Teiger recently posted…the cookie table – new trend or adaptable wedding traditionMy Profile

  3. Misty Breeze says

    Thank you, Susan, for your response.

    One would think finding rich, exotic cocoa powder in Manhattan an easy task. Wrong. I went to five gourmet stores near Union Square yesterday, including Whole Foods, and the selection was pitiful. I guess real estate is precious and a cocoa selection is not a market priority. If one is not in a hurry, Amazon might be the best and the only resource for a taste test. Given what I’m spending in taxi fares, I would have saved money by shipping overnight.

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Misty, no selection of premium cocoas in Manhattan? Wow! Are there no specialty chocolate stores? We’re lucky to have Cacao: DrinkChocolate in Portland, Oregon. Perhaps you can give them a call to see which cocoa powders they are currently carrying. They will ship, but unfortuunately, their website doesn’t show their full product line or give much information at all.

  4. Misty Breeze says

    I’m searching for a luxurious cocoa powder to sprinkle on an authentic Italian Tiramisu recipe. In this cookie post, you claim your favorite is E. Guittard Cocoa Rouge, but on your Wonderful World of Unsweetened Cocoa blog, the brand receives no stars and you say, “To my palate, here is something slightly off tasting about this cocoa powder. In any case, it doesn’t hold my interest.” So, what gives? Have you changed your mind? It seems the Wonderful World thread was written after this cookie thread. (The blog dates are not easy to find.)

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      You hit the nail on the head, Misty: The cocoa tasting was done a year AFTER the creation of the cookies. When I had a large selection of cocoas to compare and contrast and sampled them with only water and a touch of sugar, the differences were stunning. But of course each palate is different, and my preferences may not be yours. So do taste each one and see what you think.

  5. says

    Stumbled across this recipe and your blog several years ago and love your style of recipe writing and conversation. These cookies are a life changer – So this year we posted them on our newest blog (one of 4 for our catering business) Simcha-licious which refers to the happy occasions one celebrations in the Jewish religion. I am a “cultural” Jew and most decidedly not a Kosher caterer either but as you know, catering to your clients is key. We work with several NYC reformed or progressive synagogues where “kosher style” is the norm. Hence these cookies are PERFECT for Passover – with no flour or butter – they would work for most people and are a meringue without all that “stiff peak egg white” beating and folding techniques that escapes many.
    This year we’ve tried a new adaptation. We substituted toasted coconut for toasted walnuts with one batch for last nights Community Seder at the Actor’s Temple in NYC (Jack Benny was a member) and for a less observant group (my own family)in addition to the toasted coconut, we also added fresh cherries in syrup (in glass jar from Trader Joe’s), drained and a cherry stuffed into the center and enveloped. The coconut cherry batch are in the oven as I type and the tantalizing smell is driving everyone crazy. Love the look and the way they have depth in the muffin tops but find it so time consuming that we figured out to make the batter thick and to chill even overnight before scooping creates great cookie that doesn’t flatten out as much. Let me know if you’d like the link to see the finished coconut cherry cookies and we linked to your recipe rather than copying – to give credit where it is certainly due for a great job!

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Lisa, thank you so much for your kind words! :-) I also appreciate that you linked to the recipe. Yes, please provide a link to your adaptation. They sound amazing!

  6. Stacey says

    I made the batter as directed and refrigerated it. Since I don’t have a muffin top pan and prefer smaller cookies, I used a #70 disher to portion them. The cookies were delicious! They did spread a bit, but still had that chewy but crisp texture. Next time, I might use 3 egg whites instead of 4 to see how the texture is affected.

    I really enjoy your blog and appreciate being able to try your recipes with the confidence that they have been tested (and proofread!).

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Stacey, so glad these worked for you. It’s an ususal cookie technique. I’m addicted to these! And thank you for noticing that all LunaCafe recipes are tested (sometimes repeatedly) and edited before publishing. :-)

  7. Mike says

    LOL The ingredient list is complete..The order of assemblage is left to one’s own experience and expertise… and yes,roll in 10x confectionary sugar before baking…it gives a nice glaze Mike

  8. wlo says

    had something very similar to these at a pot-luck, bought from Von’s grocery store. AMAZING. They were thicker like yours, shiny/crackly on top, moist and chewy inside. The most striking thing was the smell! I can’t imagine the cookies were incredibly fresh (coming from Von’s and all), but they smelled like a fresh batch of brownies. Got home that night and looked for a recipe but the pictures all looked too thin – until I got to yours! Thanks so much for messing with the recipe “Cook’s Illustrated” style. I’ll be making these for Passover with kosher for Passover powdered sugar(made with potato starch rather than corn starch). Hopefully they’ll turn out as beautifully as yours did, as I have to impress the boyfriend’s family…

    • wlo says

      Tried them the first time with Valrhona cocoa powder (not dutch process) and they were flat as a disk. There must be something about the alkali that helps the cookie rise. Tried it again with Druste dutch cocoa and they came out perfectly.

  9. Mike says

    Fully intend to try your recipe… And when I locate the recipe I was given for Payards recipe I’ll post if you wish…

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Mike, thanks! Yes, would love to see that original Payard’s recipe. I love anything that has almomd paste in it. :-)

      • Mike says

        Didn’t forget you, just mispalaced :
        Almond paste- 1#…..Candy orange peel-1oz…….Egg Whites-2…….Chocolate Cocoa Powder- 1 oz….Walnuts….. Roll in 10z Confectionary……375- 5 minutes
        Looking foward to your results and replies
        Admitedly, there are a few fill in the blanks .

        • Susan S. Bradley says

          Mike, a FEW fill-in-the-blanks? LOL! I’m intriqued by “roll in 10 ounces confectionary” (assume that’s powdered sugar).

  10. Mike says


    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Mike, oh that DEVIL! I spent so much time testing and tweeking his printed recipe to acheive the desired result. It was perplaxing that I had to veer dramatically away from his directions to get that incredible chewiness. Nonetheless, the cookie I created as a result is amazing, and of course it has no almond paste. :-)

  11. ray says

    February 22, 2011 at 10:57 amDo you need to spray the non stick foil liner/and or the muffin pan first with cooking spray if you use the foil liner with tabs in a muffin top pan ?

  12. ray says

    Do you need to spray the non stick foil liner/and or the muffin pan first with cooking spray if you use the foil liner with tabs in a muffin top pan ?

  13. KayBakes says

    Looks delicious — thank you for all your effort in testing and retesting to find the perfect recipe!

    I have a lot of hazelnuts on hand and no walnuts — would this recipe come out well with hazelnuts instead of walnuts?


  14. says

    Okay girl, I have just had three of these sinful goodies, and I’m thinking I need to go lay down. They are so delectable and rich that words can not describe. I used King Aurthur black cocoa and wow! These cookies really are a wonderful medium to taste the cocoa-ness of your cocoa powder. I decided to take these cookies to the wine and cheese party tonight, (after my nap of course). I’m sure they will go over well!
    .-= Dana Zia´s last blog ..Peanut Butter Brownies for my Magnificent Mother =-.

    • sms bradley says

      Dana, I’m with you on these cookies. I literally cannot stop eating them when they are on hand and thus have to really think hard about whether I should make a batch. But dearest, they have NO BUTTER and NO FLOUR. Or so I tell myself when I am stuffing my face with them. Wow, black cocoa powder, can’t wait to try that. Also need to jump over to your site to check out those scrumptious sounding Peanut Butter Brownies. If there is one thing I love almost as much as chocolate, it’s peanut butter. :-)

  15. Miriam Hill says

    Cookies Perfecto Mundo made public is a world class service and I want to try it.

    My question is, Dutch process cocoa removes the beneficial antioxidants from chocolate. Do you have any ideas about using regular chocolate powder and xylitol as a sweetener?

    Thanks you again. It is better than a regular cookie recipe no matter how you look at it.


    • sms bradley says

      Thanks Miriam! I have been searching for the holy grail of cookies for many years and consider this recipe an absolute breakthrough. In my estimation, these cookies are perfection for their type (crispy-chewy-chocolatey).

      Although I have not tested it, I see no reason why you can’t substitute natural cocoa powder for alkalized cocoa powder here. The sugar though is quite a different matter. Basically, the powdered sugar and egg whites create a kind of meringue and the cookies depend on that effect for their structure. You can test it of course, maybe without the walnuts on the first test, just in case it doesn’t work. Do let us know what occurs here. I am intrigued. :-)

  16. Amy says


    I’m eager to try these. What about using Ghiradelli cocoa? My local grocery store only had that and Hersheys….


    • Amy says

      OK, so the first time was a bust. My hand mixer on medium is a little much, and I ended up with merengue. The second time I first stirred 2 egg whites in with a fork, before adding in the others and mixing on low. They came out DELICIOUS, but did spread a lot on a plain baking sheet. I happened to find a blog about Payard’s recipe just now, where one of the Payard bakers wrote in(due to the spreading complaints), and said that the batter should be more like dough, and you should only use as much egg white as necessary to create a scoopable dough. Anyway, the Ghiradelli is good, bt I could see how a premium cocoa will give a stronger flavor. I’m thinking to add in some ancho and chili powder next time for a spicy-chocolate loving friend.

      Thanks for the great recipe!


      • sms bradley says

        Great, glad they worked out for you. As I describe and picture above, the dough should not be runny and should hold its shape on the cookie sheet. The special pan makes a big difference in the finished depth of the cookie as well.

  17. Beth says

    Love them! I want to get the Guittard cocoa and found 2 types of the Dutch-processed: 10-12% cocoa butter and 22-24%. Which would you recommend?


    • sms bradley says

      Thanks so much! :-) I used Guittard Cocoa Rouge for some of the tests on this cookie. I purchased it at Williams Sonoma. I’m not sure on the fat content but suspect that either will work here. If I can find the higher fat cocoa, I will use it the next time I bake these cookies and let you all know the results.

  18. FoodOfMiami says

    insanity!!!! PMS DREAM!!! Love it! Added to the recipe list 😉

    FoodOfMiami´s last blog post..Hiro’s Yakko San – North Miami

  19. Sheila says

    MMMMM I made these today and they were…wow….thanks for this great recipe! I even added orange zest and chopped chocolate chips to my second batch. My new signature recipe!

    • smsb says

      Ahhhh, Sheila, that sounds fantastic. I want to try an orange-chile version next. And then candied ginger. I meant to mention that Nuvrei does a version with chocolate chunks instead of walnuts. But those are for ADVANCED chocolate eaters. :-)

  20. says

    I loved this recipe and my husband (who does not like anything healthy) loved it. I used all regular Splenda and baked on a well greased cookie sheet and everything turned out wonderfully. I will definitely make these again!!

    • maria says

      Hi Ashley, I got to the perfecta mundo cookies rith know and wanted to try them a litlle lower cals so wanted to know how much splenda did you use?? thanks so much!! I,m from Chile

    • maria says

      Hi Susan!! thank you for your loveley recipes , they are so good!!
      I,m from Chile and love your “american” recipes!!
      Do you know how much splenda to use? Do you substitu all sugar for splenda or a apart? I,m afraid the dogh is too runny is only splenda??
      Thanks so much!!

      • Susan S. Bradley says

        Maria, I haven’t tested this recipe with Splenda, so can’t advise you. There is a Splenda-sugar blend in the grocery store that claims to cook just like sugar though. Perhaps give it a try and let us know? Thanks!

    • sms bradley says

      Deb, Splenda has a half-and-half mixture of Splenda and sugar, which bakes in a similar way to regular sugar. You can get the details at . I haven’t tried it, but I think regular sugar (or the Splenda mix) will work in this cookie. It’s worth a try, eh? :-)

    • sms bradley says

      Robin, honestly, these cookies are WOW. I am addicted to the texture: first a little crisp on the surface, then super chewy, then oozing chocolate and crunchy toasted walnuts. I should add that we determined that 2 days is the outside holding time for these cookies if sealed airtight. After that, the texture goes slightly wonky and the magic is lost. They aren’t likely to last 2 days though, so no worries.

    • smsb says

      Thanks Kevin! I was perhaps overly cautious on making liners for a nonstick pan but there was so much concern expressed on the web from folks who made similar cookies and then ccouldn’t get them poff the pan, that I thought better safe than sorry. It turned out not to be necessary, however.

  21. says

    Absolutely fantastic, and I love the “I’m Doing For the Good of Mankind” approach — sharing pics of each method and its results. I, too, use a muffin top pan, for cookies. In fact, for everything except muffin tops — which this pan does not make.

    • sms bradley says

      Thanks Kate! I agree that a perfect cookie is a good thing for mankind, as you say. :-) I’m glad you mention that this pan does not make muffin tops. I wondered about that. But I like it so much for cookies that I’m going to get a couple more. It should be perfect for oatmeal and peanut butter cookies as well.

  22. Val says

    OMG!!!!!!!! The pictures!!!! I’m dying here!!!!

    I found the best, darkest cocoa powder in the bulk food section at my Yokes grocery store. (Wa. state)

    Never payed much attention to the quality of the cocoa I used until the day I ran out mid recipe & borrowed some Hersheys cocoa from a neighbor. It was so light! If I hadn’t opened her new can of cocoa myself I would have thought it was hot cocoa mix! What a difference! We could really taste the difference too!

    I enjoy your blog & will think of you fondly when I make these cookies tomorrow. ;o}

    • smsb says

      Thanks Val! :-) I did an extensive cocoa powder tasting and was really intriqued by the results. I will share that in the upcoming ultimate chocolate pudding post.

    • sms bradley says

      Chuck, I just accepted your Be My Valentine request on your great site (oh the bread!), but I called you Ken, so you need to forgive me. Cookies for freshly baked bread? I’m all yours. :-)

    • sms bradley says

      Thanks Natalie! Now you can give your friends a few of these cookies WITH those darling cup holders you make. :-)

    • sms bradley says

      Pigpigs, I’m not over inflating here. Go to your kitchen now and turn on the oven! I am absolutely BLOWN AWAY by how good these cookies are. You will be too!


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