Best Chocolate Cookies

This is the best chocolate cookie I bake. And I don’t say that lightly. It’s a crackle-edged puddle of chocolate with a texture like a collision between a soft meringue and a fudgy brownie. Part of my essential cookie repertoire!

Best Chocolate Cookies

I came across the perfect chocolate cookie when I visited Portland years ago. The cookies were popular in the coffee shop I would visit, and I loved them. Each cookie was a crackle-edged puddle of chocolate with a texture that made me think of a collision between soft meringue and a fudgy brownie. I fell hard. In the years since, we’ve come to call them chocolate puddle cookies, and there are just six ingredients between you a baking sheet of them. No mixer necessary, just a big bowl and wooden spoon.
chocolate cookies on parchment paper after baking

Chocolate Cookie Inspiration

As far as the origins of this recipe? I came across a recipe shortly after my return from Portland that sounded very close to the cookie I tasted there. The Portland chocolate cookies seemed to be a version of François Payard's Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookie. But, the recipe I was working from didn't work all that well for me. The good news is, it did provide a good starting point. I adjusted a few ingredients, tweaked my technique, and now I've been able to make them reliably making little tweaks along the way. All my insights and ingredient notes are integrated into this page and recipe.

Chocolate Cookies: The Ingredients

The ingredient list here is short and direct. There’s a good chance you have all the ingredients on hand - cocoa, powdered sugar, egg whites, walnuts, vanilla, and a bit of salt. A few related notes:

  • Cocoa powder: I’ve used a wide range cocoa powder in these cookies over the years. The key here is to use unsweetened. For a long time I tended to use non-alkalized cocoa powder (Scharffen Berger or Dagoba) but also tested with Droste, which is a Dutch-process cocoa powder. And! I just made a fantastic batch using Guittard Cocoa Rough last week. Pictured here. So, use what you like, just be sure it’s not sweetened.
  • Walnuts: On the walnut front, be mindful of how you toast your walnuts, it's the single factor that impacts the personality of these cookies most. Using deeply toasted walnuts makes for a much more intense, nutty cookie. Lightly toasted walnuts can sometimes be mistaken for chocolate chips, and make for a much more mild cookie. Both good!
  • Powdered sugar: I've used both 365 organic powdered sugar from Whole Foods, and Hain organic powdered sugar with success.
  • Eggs: Use large eggs, I suspect if you use extra-large, the batter will run, and you'll have to compensate with more powdered sugar.

Technique and Pro-tips

Reading this far will pay off, I promise. Here are a couple things that really make a difference here.

  1. Sift. Really, don’t skip this step. Get all those lumps out.
    chocolate cookie ingredients sifted into a bowl
  2. Add ingredients in the correct order. This is what your mixture should look like after mixing in the walnuts. (below)
    chocolate cookie dry ingredients combines in a mixing bowl
  3. Consistency. This is roughly what your cookie batter should look like after mixing in the egg whites.
    chocolate cookie batter in a mixing bowl
  4. Bake & Cool Completely. Do your best to avoid under-baking, and after baking, allow the cookies to cool completely. A couple hours is best. They will set up beautifully. The goal is a clean break-away from the parchment paper. It’s sometimes hard to tell when these cookies are fully baked, the ones in the picture directly above are slightly underbaked for my tastes. So I adjusted with the remaining two cookie sheets.
    chocolate cookie cooling on racks in a kitchen

Chocolate Cookie Variations

I like to make these just as written in the recipe below. It’s one of those rare cooking endeavors where I don’t mess around much. But there have been many great comments over the years. A lot of people make these chocolate cookies with toasted pecans in place of the walnuts. Some add the zest of an orange. And another person recommended dried cherries. Espresso powder was something I’ve considered but never tried (although some of you have!).And numerous people like to freeze these cookies, and crumble them over ice cream for the win!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I have. They've become family favorites.

close up of chocolate cookie on a marble countertop

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chocolate cookie on parchment paper after baking

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Chocolate Cookies

4.63 from 8 votes

Also known around here as chocolate puddle cookies. The main thing, as mentioned up above, you don't want to over or under bake here. Over bake, and your cookies will cool to a crisp. Under bake, and they are too floppy and crumbly. Also, underbaking makes it more difficult to remove the cookies from the parchment paper after baking. You’ll get the swing of it after a sheet or two!

Ingredients
  • 3 cups / 11 oz / 310 g walnut halves, toasted & cooled
  • 4 cups / 1 lb / 453 g confectioner's (powdered) sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons / 2 oz / 60 g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon real, good-quality vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 320°F / 160°C degrees and position racks in the top and bottom third. Line three (preferably rimmed) baking sheets with parchment paper. Or you can bake in batches with fewer pans.

  2. Make sure your walnuts have cooled, then chop coarsely (pea-sized chunks) and set aside. Sift together the confectioner's sugar and cocoa powder. Stir in the salt and walnuts, then add the egg whites and vanilla. Stir until uniform and well combined.
  3. Spoon the batter onto the prepared sheets in mounds of about 2 tablespoons each, allowing for PLENTY of room between cookies. These cookies really expand. Don't try to get more than 6 cookies on each sheet, and try to avoid placing the batter too close to the edge of the pan.
  4. Bake until they puff up. The tops should get glossy, and then crack a bit - about 13 -15 minutes. Have faith! They look sad at first, then really blossom. You may want to rotate the pans top/bottom/back/front, but I typically don’t bother.
  5. After removing from the oven, slide the cookies (still on parchment) onto a cooling rack, and let them cool completely. They are best after they’ve cooled for a couple hours if you can wait. They will keep in an airtight for a couple days.
Notes

Makes 18 large cookies.

Serves
18
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
 
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Comments

I made these and they are so yummy and of course….. gluten free! But they stuck to the parchment which made it very difficult to not break them. Do you have suggestions on how to prevent this?

Mary Kay Hunt

I’d like to try this with aquafaba instead of egg whites. Do you have a measurement for the egg whites by volume or weight?

Claire

I love these! I used to make them a lot and forgot about them until a couple weeks ago. I just bought walnuts and feel like this is the algorithm reading my mind.

Jac

I made these last weekend to bring to a friends house and they were AMAZING! I followed the directions exactly and had no problems. Oh, and I'm in portland and will now be searching for the inspiration for this cookie! :)

Jenn

They look absolutely gorgeous, will be trying them out - thanks for sharing and your photos are great!

UK Foodie

Are the egg whites supposed to be beaten before mixing them--like a meringue--or are they just mixed right into the sugar/chocolate mixture? HS: Hi Lorna, just mix them right in - no need to go the meringue route.

Lorna

They look fantastic

The Food Hunter

Yum! These are like all the best parts of a brownie in a cookie! The crunchy edge part and the gooey center. :) For those of you wondering (and on a budget or unable to find high quality cocoa powder) I just made them with supermarket brand powdered sugar and nestle cocoa powder (since I was in a hurry and that's what I had) and they came out AWESOME, although a little more asymmetrical than yours Heidi! :) Question: is there a "wrong" side to parchment paper? I usually unroll it and put it so that it doesn't roll up again and wonder if I'm putting the wrong side up for my cookies not to stick (they stuck a bit). Keep the recipes coming Heidi! and the great photos!

Michelle

    Hi Michelle - bake them a bit longer next time and allow to cool completely, and that should solve the sticking issue.

    Heidi Swanson

Oh my, these look so good. These look like my husband's dream cookie!

Autumn

I had the same experience as Rosemary, Amy J, and some other commenters -- the batter was super thick, and the end result didn't look much like the cookies pictured. Next time I think I'll use a bit less powdered sugar, and see if that does the trick. The taste, however, was really great. Thanks for posting the recipe -- it makes for a terrific cookie.

Jennifer C

These looked so awesome I had to make them! One can splurge on Valentine's Day, no? I started through my cabinets.... Sugar? Check! Cocoa? Check! Eggs? Check! Walnuts? Sigh.. No.. but I had Pecans! 1 Tbsp Vanilla? Another sigh.... only 1tsp. Solution? Adapt! I reduced the juice of a blood orange to 2 tsp. and added that with some of the zest in with the vanilla. Still a wonderful cookie! I still can't wait to try the original recipe! When is the next holiday I can cheat/treat my diet?

Peach Paulison

BTW, I used pecans instead of walnuts because walnuts (and a couple of other things) make my tongue really sensitive. Great with pecans! And my thick batter ended up being a lot like fudge. Mmmmfff, no, I didn't eat it....just saying....

Amy J.

I also made these for my family for Valentine's Day. However, I surmise that my egg white measurements that I found online were a wee bit off (I was using whites in a carton), because my cookies didn't turn into puddles. They just remained the shape in which I put them onto the cookie sheet! They did expand, though, and are still very good. They taste like chocolate meringue with nuts and a chewy center. Yum. Next time, more egg whites!

Amy J.

OK Heidi, you outdid yourself with this suggestion! They are totally worth the sugar- thank god they dont have the flour! Extra toasty walnuts are soo perfect!

Amy

Well........there goes the diet! But do we care? These cookies look like they are worth every single calorie.

Shay

thanks for the wonderful recipe! i didn't have large eggs, but 1/2 c. of egg whites worked perfectly. i also substituted 2 c. of chocolate chips for the nuts (i have relatives and friends with severe nut allergies), which also worked.

terri

Heidi, WOW!!! Thank you so much for this recipe. I too was skeptical about how these would turn out but they are just absolutely devine. I halved the recipe as I didn't have enough icing sugar (thats what us Aussies call it!) and they are sensational. I'm off to make a coffee to have another one! Sarah x P.S. I love this website and SNC. You give me so many awesome ideas to cook with different foods and try foods I never normally would have, and your descriptions are ace!!!

Sarah

Very interesting indeed! I was skeptical of a cookie with no butter (or shortening) and no flour, but they really do work - the way they puff up just at the end is amazing. Based on a couple of ideas posted here, I put just 2 cups of nuts and a cup of chocolate chips, because I like chocolate way more than nuts. This might have made them extra gooey - I'm not sure because I didn't try them the original way - but they're darn good. Just don't eat too many at once, or you'll feel the effects of all that sugar :)

David

Wow and I do mean wow! These were amazing and the texture is too die for. Definitely use parchment paper if you have some!

Kathryn

Great cookies. I added a half teaspoon of instant espresso powder for an added kick. I baked the first batch on silicon sheets and made a mess -- follow Heidi's directions and use parchment. Works much better.

Kelly

Thank you for this recipe! not only is it gluten-free but it is dairy-free as well (I have intolerances to both). It was such a joy to have a real cookie again! I even messed up my recipe and they still turned out delicious. I ended up using toasted almonds which worked well with the chocolate. I just wish I had chopped them up into smaller pieces - will do so next time! I'm going to make these for the next company meeting - they all feel sorry for me because I can't eat "normal" food haha. Wait till they get a taste of these! Thank you!!

jaime

I too made these this weekend. Wonderful! I had to force myself to put them in the freezer, otherwise I would have eaten a lot more than I did.

Susan UK

made these this weekend. they were fabulous! simple and quick! huge hit with the husband.

tina

These are the devil to get off the baking sheet, I recommend using rice paper to bake them on

kirsty

I baked these tonight and, while tasty, they came out a bit strange. A meringue crust formed on the top of the cookie and it was wet and very sticky underneath (albeit delicious!). I had a thermometer in my oven at the time, so I know the temperature was correct. My oven is a fan oven (I think the US equivalent is a "convection oven", though I'm not sure). Did I just undercook them or do you think there could there be some other reason for the separation and sticky undersides?

JK

    Hi JK - yes, give them a few more minutes & you should be fine.

    Heidi Swanson

Thanks so much for sharing this gluten free recipe! Can't wait to give these a try.

Katie

love that there's no mixer needed! made these last night for an early v-day dinner and am still being worshiped!

veronica

Made these last night and they are AMAZING. Really. Delicious. And the texture is fabulous- a little crunch when you bite into it and then soft and chewy on the inside. Mmm. I had expected them to spread a little more than they did, but mine did not really spread out like Heidi had warned. But boy are they tasty! And they are even better after they have had time to set and cool. (And I am normally a eat-the-cookies-while-they-are-warm kind of person!) Thanks, Heidi, for this recipe!!!! (And the many others...) :)

Jenny

Made them. Love them! Thanks!

Lilli

and by "i am not a cake baker," i meant "i AM a cake baker, not a cookie baker." fingers got ahead of my brain.

naomi

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