Flourless Chocolate Cookies
Not too long ago, I was a real snob about gluten-free and/or vegan baked goods. I always opted for the version with flour and dairy, believing them to be far superior to anything flourless, eggless, and whatever else. What eventually changed my mind was Nuvrei, a French bakery around the corner from an old office. Once a month, my boss would treat my team to a box of cookies from there. I always elbowed the rest of my coworkers out of the way so I could get my cookie of choice: a double chocolate cookie. On its own, it didn’t look too special. Just another chocolate cookie with an almost-black chocolate color and a beautifully craggy surface. But I’d never had anything like them. Their texture was almost contradictory, managing to be chewy, crispy, and light as air all at once.
Gluten Free Chocolate Cookies
My love for those cookies were so intense that I eventually couldn’t wait for my boss’s monthly treat. I began purchasing a double chocolate cookie from the bakery on a weekly basis. One day, I noticed that the bakery was selling a box mix version of my beloved cookies; I quickly seized a bag (despite the fact that one cost $18). Later at home, I read through the ingredients listed on the mix. I was stunned to find that my favorite bakery cookies were completely 100% flourless. That was the moment that changed my attitude towards alternative baked goods completely. It was the first time that a 100% gluten free cookie had bamboozled me.
François Payard Chocolate Walnut Cookies
These cookies were reverse-engineered from Nuvrei’s, whose own cookies are based on a recipe by the famed pastry chef François Payard. François Payard was the pastry chef at some of New York’s most renowned and refined restaurants, including Le Bernardin and DANIEL. He eventually opened his own patisserie in the Upper East Side, where a variation of these flourless chocolate cookies was one of the most popular selling items. He later went on to publish the recipe in a book called Chocolate Epiphany: Exception Cookies, Cakes, and Confections for Everyone.
His original recipe uses walnuts instead of chocolate chips. The walnuts in the cookies help bring texture to a loose cookie dough, and help tamp the cookies’ rich flavor. Nuvrei also sold this chocolate walnut version, too. But I’ll be honest—I never liked it as much as the double chocolate one. You know, the one studded with chocolate chips? Maybe I’m just too much of a chocoholic, lol. In any case, I decided that the recipe on my blog would have to be the flourless chocolate cookies with the chocolate chips.
What is the texture of these flourless chocolate cookies?
I describe the texture of these flourless chocolate cookies as a cross between a chewy brownie edge piece and a soft chocolate meringue. The cookies are crispest on the day they’re made, but then soften to the perfect chewiness overnight and the next few days.
Why You Should Make These Flourless Chocolate Cookies
Now that you’ve learned all about this recipe, let’s talk about all the reasons you should make this flourless chocolate cookie recipe:
- In case you missed it from the name, these flourless chocolate cookies are gluten free.
Many of you are always requesting that I share more gluten free recipes on Hummingbird High. I’ll be honest: gluten free baking is NOT my forte (please check out my friends over at Snixy Kitchen or The Bojon Gourmet instead). I always find it difficult to find the right textures and flavors in gluten free baking. But François Payard’s original recipe was already on point. I didn’t have to do a ton of experimentation to make it suit my tastes. These cookies are both gluten free AND delicious from the get go.
- This flourless chocolate cookie recipe uses minimal ingredients that are already in your pantry.
I also tend to avoid gluten free baking projects because their recipes requires a lot of expensive, specialty flours. Often times, these specialty flours are not as shelf-stable as their conventional counterparts. So for the most part, unless it’s a special occasion, I’m the kind of baker who likes to make do with what’s already in her pantry.
Which is why this flourless chocolate cookie is a freakin’ godsend. There’s no need to go to a fancy grocery store or co-op to source anything new. All you need is confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, eggs, vanilla, and chocolate chips. And if you’re a regular baker like I am, it’s likely that you already have all of these on hand!
- This flourless chocolate cookie recipe is small batch and only makes 8 cookies.
François Payard’s original chocolate walnut cookie recipe made a LOT of cookies. It claimed to make only a dozen, but whenever I try it at home (using the cookie dough scoop size he recommends, too!), I always end up with more than 20 cookies! More cookies are usually not a problem, but given how difficult it’s been to share baked goods with other folks right now, I’m erring on the side of caution. I’ve halved the original recipe to make just 8 cookies. If you want to go even smaller, you can half MY recipe (see more on how to do so below) and make just four cookies!
Note that yes, my photos show more cookies because I had some leftover from my first round of recipe testing.
- These flourless chocolate chip cookies store well and even taste better with time.
Unlike most cookies that grow stale and hard over time, these flourless chocolate chip cookies actually get BETTER. Their texture softens and becomes my ideal level of chewy two to three days after I initially baked them.
Flourless Chocolate Cookies Ingredients and Substitutions
Now that I’ve convinced you to make these flourless chocolate cookies, here is the shopping list for this flourless chocolate cookie recipe:
Shopping List for Flourless Chocolate Cookies
- confectioners’ sugar
- Dutch-processed OR natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- large eggs (specifically, egg whites)
- pure vanilla extract
- kosher salt
- chocolate chips
And let’s talk about some of the key ingredients in the recipe:
This flourless chocolate chip cookie recipe needs 1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar to make the cookies.
This flourless chocolate cookie recipe does NOT use flour or sugar. Instead, both are replaced by confectioners’ sugar (a.k.a. powdered sugar or icing sugar). For the very best cookies, make sure to sift your confectioners’ sugar before mixing it with the other ingredients!
What’s the easiest way to sift confectioners’ sugar for baking recipes?
The easiest way to sift confectioners’ sugar is to measure out what’s needed for the recipe; you’ll then pour that amount into a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar or stir with a rubber spatula until it falls through the sieve and into the bowl, perfectly sifted.
Can I replace the confectioners’ sugar with a “healthier” non-refined sugar option like stevia or xylitol?
Sadly, not easily. The confectioners’ sugar is standing in for flour—without it, the cookies would lose a significant part of their structure. You’d need to find a powdered sugar alternative that has a similar hydration level to that of flour and confectioners’ sugar to help absorb the moisture from the egg whites.
To understand what that TRULY means, we need to talk about food science. When developing recipes, bakers have to be mindful of the amount of liquids in the recipe relative to the amount of flour. Why? During the baking process, the flour will absorb some of that liquid. Doing so helps create the baked good’s final texture and structure. For more in-depth information on the process, check out this article on flour hydration levels from King Arthur Flour.
Although this recipe is gluten-free and does NOT use flour, it does use ingredients like confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder that have a similar hydration level to flour. Unfortunately, neither stevia or xylitol (or their powdered versions) have that hydration level.
This flourless chocolate chip cookie recipe needs ⅓ cup Dutch-processed OR natural unsweetened cocoa powder to make the cookies.
The flourless chocolate cookies get their chocolate flavor from cocoa powder. You can use either natural unsweetened cocoa powder or Dutch-processed cocoa powder in this recipe. François Payard’s original recipe uses Dutch-processed cocoa powder, which has has been treated with alkaline to give it a milder flavor and darker color. But I made two different batches of cookies using both types of cocoa powder and actually preferred the ones made with natural unsweetened cocoa powder! But both were plenty good—so use whichever one you prefer or have on hand.
Can I use extra black cocoa powder in this flourless chocolate cookie recipe?
Sadly, no. A handful of my followers on Instagram have made these cookies with EXTRA dark cocoa powder, similar to King Arthur Flour’s Black Cocoa. For some reason, the cookies don’t work as well. At worst, they come out bubbly and spongey. At best, they come out more like brownies. I really have no idea why. According to this article from The Kitchn, black cocoa is basically Dutch-processed cocoa powder that’s been EXTRA-treated with alkaline to make it even darker. Maybe it’s all that extra alkaline that causes it to bubble?
Can I use melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder to make these cookies?
Hm. You all know I love using melted chocolate in baked goods (see: my now internet famous fudge brownies recipe and the small batch version of the recipe, and this chocolate chess pie). In fact, I usually prefer using melted chocolate over cocoa powder. But unfortunately, I don’t think doing so will work in this recipe.
Why? Because these cookies are flourless, the cocoa powder acts like flour in the recipe to hold the cookies together. The reason why this works is because cocoa powder, unlike chocolate, has almost no cocoa butter in it. This quality allows it to absorb the egg whites, which then gives the cookies their signature texture and help keep them moist and tender. Regular chocolate, on the other hand, has cocoa butter. Melted chocolate WON’T absorb the egg whites in the recipe at all, resulting in completely different textured cookies. Furthermore, the cocoa butter in melted chocolate will firm up at room temperature and give these cookies a firm, dense, and dry texture.
This flourless chocolate chip cookie recipe needs 2 large egg whites to make the cookies.
Many of you always ask if you can replace the eggs in the recipe with non-dairy alternatives like flax eggs. While that replacement can work in other recipes, egg whites are pretty essential in this flourless chocolate cookie recipe. The egg whites give the cookies their signature meringue-like texture.
Can I use egg whites from a carton to make these cookies?
Yes! For the recipe that makes 8 cookies, use ¼ cup (2 ounces or 57 grams) egg whites from a carton. For the even smaller batch recipe that makes 4 cookies (see below), use 2 Tablespoons egg whites from a carton.
Can I use a whole egg instead of egg whites in this recipe?
Sadly, no. Because the cookies are flourless, they lack gluten. That means holding them together will require a lot of protein (in the form of egg whites) and absolutely no fat (which is heavy and needs something strong like gluten to bind them). Unfortunately, egg yolks contain a LOT of fat. SO using a whole egg with the yolk would change the texture of these cookies completely, and may even result in batter that won’t keep its shape in the oven.
You’ll notice that, unlike other cookies, these flourless cookies don’t contain any kind of fat like butter, shortening, or oil. That’s because these cookies are pretty similar to meringue. You can read more about the food science behind it all in this article by The Kitchn and this one by Serious Eats.
Can I use aquafaba instead of egg whites in this flourless chocolate cookie recipe?
Sadly, no. A couple of my Instagram followers tried replacing the egg whites with aquafaba and were unsuccessful. One of them replaced the egg whites with unwhipped aquafaba and said that the cookies turned into a gloopy, giant mass. The other replaced the egg whites with whipped aquafaba, tried folding in the dry ingredients, and ended up with flat globs, too. Stick with egg whites please! In a pinch, you can use egg whites from a carton—see the FAQ section below.
How to Make Flourless Chocolate Cookies From Scratch
Unlike most other drop cookies that require you to beat butter, sugar, and eggs together, this flourless chocolate cookie is much more low-key. You don’t even need a fancy electric mixer of any kind—just a big bowl and a stiff rubber spatula! Here are the key steps to making flourless chocolate chip cookies:
- Prep your ingredients by sifting your confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and separating your egg whites. (Prep Time: 5 minutes)
Although there are fancy tools that help you sift ingredients, I like to use a fine mesh sieve. Place the sieve over a medium bowl and measure out both the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder on top of the sieve. Use a stiff rubber spatula to stir the ingredients until they fall through the sieve and into the bowl.
When it comes to egg whites, note that it’s much easier to separate eggs when they’re cold. I like to separate the whites and the yolks right after removing the eggs from the fridge. I then place the egg whites in a small, thick ramekin and let the ramekin sit in a bowl of very warm water. This allows the separated egg whites to come to room temperature much more quickly. Just make sure that no water gets into the ramekin! You only need enough water for it to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekin.
- Mix together the sifted confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder with the egg whites and vanilla, using a stiff rubber spatula. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
The stiffer your rubber spatula, the easier the job will be! Be careful not to overmix—you only want to mix to the point where the ingredients have moistened. Any more and your dough will be too tough and hard to work with.
- Add the chocolate chips. (Work Time: <1 minutes)
François Payard’s original chocolate walnut cookie recipe added a LOT of walnuts to the dough: a whopping 2 ⅔ cups! Because I am a chocolate fiend, I thought it would be totally okay to replace that amount with the same amount of chocolate chips. It kills me to write this, but it was too much. The cookies were much too sweet, and their textures were off.
So take it from my experience—follow the ingredient quantities exactly as written, especially when it comes to the amount of chocolate chips. Too many chocolate chips will be overly sweet; the cookies will also fail to develop their signature craggy surface. Too little and the cookies will be incredibly flat. You need just ⅓ cup, I promise.
Flourless Chocolate Cookie Recipe Troubleshooting and FAQ
FAQ: Flourless Chocolate Cookie Recipe Results
Why did my cookies come out bubbly instead of shiny and cracked?
This is so hard for me to troubleshoot without being there myself, but when talking with my Instagram followers, I’ve found that these are the two most common culprits:
First: check your eggs. Did you use the right amount of eggs? Please double check your egg sizes, too! Too much egg will cause these cookies to look bubbly and spongey (with no cracked, shiny tops), and too little will cause them to spread too much and stick to the pan.
Second: check your cocoa powder. What kind did you use? This recipe doesn’t work as well with black cocoa powder (similar this one from King Arthur). You can read more about why in the Ingredients section above—I think all the extra alkaline in the cocoa powder makes the cookies go haywire.
Help! I think I underbaked the cookies and they are too sticky. I’m having trouble unsticking them from the parchment.
Ah yes, I’ve been there too. Check out the baker’s notes in the yellow box below for more information on how to unstick them from the parchment. You’ll need a stiff metal spatula for the job!
Help! I think I overbaked the cookies and they are too crispy. What should I do?
Don’t panic! These cookies are very similar to meringue—they’ll soften overnight, especially in humid temperatures. Check out the baker’s notes in the yellow box below for more information on how to save the cookies if you’ve overbaked them. Don’t worry, there’s no need to throw anything out and waste food!
FAQ: Flourless Chocolate Cookie Storage
How do you store flourless chocolate cookies?
Store the flourless chocolate cookies in a zip top bag for up to 3 days at room temperature. 3 days is actually pretty conservative, too. Truthfully, they could last for up to 5 days at room temperature… I just have never been able to confirm since I’ve usually eaten them all by then, lol.
Can you freeze the flourless chocolate cookie dough?
Sadly, no. Because these cookies are gluten free, their dough is actually more similar to a runny pancake or cake batter. Traditional cookie doughs are easy to scoop into a ball shape and freeze for baking later. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to do that with the flourless chocolate cookie dough—it won’t hold its shape when scooped and instead will turn into a puddle.
If you insist on making the cookie dough ahead of time and baking for later, you can simply store it in the fridge (still in its bowl but covered with plastic wrap) for up to 3 days. When ready to bake, follow the recipe’s instructions for scooping and baking the dough accordingly. Just note that because the dough has been chilled, it will be a little bit tough to scoop.
Can you freeze the baked flourless chocolate cookies?
Yes! One reader swears by it and that, when frozen, they turn into the perfect treat on a hot summer’s day. But you can also thaw frozen ones overnight in the refrigerator, then at room temperature for a few more hours. They’ll lose their crispy edges after being frozen, but will still be chewy and delicious.
Best Flourless Chocolate Cookie Recipe Tips
Best Ingredient Tip
- Cornstarch is typically added to confectioners’ sugar to prevent it from clumping. Different brands of confectioners’ sugar will have varying amounts of cornstarch. This can affect the cookie dough, making it more or less dry. It may seem like the dough will need more liquid in the form of egg whites. Resist adding any more. Instead, simply use a stiff rubber spatula or even a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients together until they’re JUST moistened (any more, and the dough will be too stiff and hard to work with). It’ll come together, I promise.
Best Equipment Tip
- The cookie dough will be very thin; it will be more like batter than traditional cookie dough. As a result, it can be hard to portion it out without the right tools. Invest in a cookie dough scoop! For this recipe, I used a 2-tablespoon cookie dough scoop. If you can only invest in one cookie dough scoop, I suggest buying a 1-tablespoon cookie dough scoop. You can then use it to form recipes that call for 2 tablespoon or 3 tablespoon sized cookies, too.
Best Baking Tips
- Because the dough is SO liquidy, the cookies will spread generously in the oven. Be sure to leave plenty of space between each cookie. I ended up using a half sheet pan and only baking four cookies at a time on the pan!
- These cookies have a tendency to stick to the parchment paper if underbaked, so please bake for the exact times listed. But if you’ve accidentally underbaked the cookies and find that they’re stuck to the paper, don’t panic! Instead, use a stiff metal spatula to unstick the cookies by sliding the spatula as far as it can go underneath the cookie and, with the spatula still underneath the cookie, carefully work your way around the cookie to unstick the edges. Once all the edges are unstuck, slide the spatula back underneath the cookie as far as it can go and carefully apply pressure to the center of the cookie to jimmy it loose.
- If you’ve gone the other way and ended up with cookies that are too brittle and crisp for your liking, don’t throw them out! You can soften them up to the perfect texture with little effort. Lay flat each cookie on a piece of parchment paper on the counter; let sit, uncovered and undisturbed, overnight. The next morning, the cookies will have softened up to a more ideal chewy and soft texture. These cookies are very similar to meringue—in humid environments, they’ll absorb the moisture from the air and soften up considerably. If you live in a dry climate, place them on a baking sheet in the oven (turned off, please!) overnight with a glass of hot water to create a more humid environment.
More Flourless Chocolate Recipes
Flourless Chocolate Cookies Recipe
- 1 ½ cups (6 ounces or 170 grams) confectioners' sugar
- ⅓ cup (1 ounce or 28 grams) Dutch-processed OR natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅓ cup (2 ounces or 57 grams) chocolate chips
For the Flourless Chocolate Cookies
- Prep your oven and pans. Position racks in both the upper third and lower third racks of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Make the cookies. In a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder. Add the egg whites, vanilla, and salt and mix with a stiff rubber spatula or wooden spoon until the dough is just moistened. The dough will be liquidy like a batter. Mix in the chocolate chips.
- Working quickly, use a 2-tablespoon cookie dough scoop to portion the dough into four evenly spaced mounds on each half sheet pan. Because the dough is so runny, the portions will likely look misshapen—don't worry about it too much, they'll spread into even circles in the oven. Be sure to leave at least 3 inches between each cookie.
- Bake the cookies. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies are glossy and lightly cracked, rotating the pans between the two racks halfway through the bake time. Cool the cookies completely on the pan on wire racks. Once the cookies have cooled, use a stiff metal spatula to release each cookie by sliding it quickly and forcefully underneath each cookie.
- Serve and store. Serve at room temperature. Store the flourless chocolate cookies in a zip top bag for up to 3 days at room temperature.
Variation: Small Batch Flourless Chocolate Cookies
So you want to make these cookies but can’t handle eating eight of them. Good news! You can half my recipe below and make a quarter of François Payard’s original recipe for a grand total of FOUR cookies.
My recipe, however, does not half easily. Instead, you’ll need to follow these quantities:
- ¾ cup (3 ounces or 85 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 3 tablespoons natural unsweetened OR Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
- 1 large egg white
- ¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- a pinch of kosher salt
The quantities above should make a grand total of just FOUR cookies.
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NO TIME TO BAKE?!
Over the past several years of running Hummingbird High, I kept a crucial aspect of my life hidden from my readers: I had a full-time, extremely demanding job in the tech world. In my debut cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I finally reveal the secrets to baking delicious desserts on a tight schedule.
This post was last updated on 8/25/2020.