Chocolate Espresso Cookies

I developed these irresistible chewies based on chopped pecans instead of flour. Combine with cocoa, espresso powder, powdered sugar, egg whites, and vanilla. Scoop and bake.


My daughter, an avid cookie lover, thought the cookie exchange idea was genius, so a few years ago we started hosting an annual cookie exchange for all the girls in her class and their moms. The girls decorate gingerbread women, sip hot chocolate, and inevitably put on an impromptu “show” for the moms. Then we gather around the dining room table, tins in hand, and collect cookies from the many inviting trays.


10 ounces pecans (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups powdered sugar*
3 egg whites, at room temperature, whisked
1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract*


If you can, make the cookies a day before you need them. The chocolate and coffee flavors meld together, tasting even better the day after baking.


  • Put the pecans in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely chopped. (Do not over process or you'll end up with a paste.) Add the cocoa, espresso powder, salt and powdered sugar and pulse just to combine. Transfer to a large bowl.
  • Add the egg whites and vanilla to the bowl and stir until the ingredients are just combined. Refrigerate the cookie dough for at least 15 minutes and up to several hours. Preheat the oven to 350° while the dough chills.
  • Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop level tablespoons of dough about 1 1/2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Bake until the cookies are just firm in the center, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking, about 12 minutes. Cool the cookies on a rack. Store in an airtight container for about a week.
  • * Note: Check labels to be sure the brands of powdered sugar and vanilla extract are gluten free, just to be safe.
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