Religious Feasting

Passover is one of my favorite food holidays. It brings back memories of my Mom’s beautifully decorated tables and delicious dinners. Her matzo ball soup was the best. I remember watching her make her matzo balls from scratch.  We were one of only a handful of Jews celebrating Passover in Wichita Falls.

In Texas, Passover always meant springtime—or the beginning of the hot weather. So, when I moved to New York, I was shocked to find that we’re lucky if we’re not being snowed in for our Seders. Hopefully we won’t still be plowing out from this last snow storm when it rolls around this year!

Cookies you Can’t Pass Over!

Nowadays, when I host a Seder, I usually ask my guests to bring dessert as I don’t often think of myself as a baker. But, because we’re not supposed to eat anything  that uses traditional leavening agents, I try to help them out. I used to suggest that they grab these wonderful gooey and crispy chocolate-walnut flourless cookies from Francois Payard’s bakery. But when they all closed recently, I decided to try recreating his recipe and it’s been a revelation!

These cookies are so easy to make that I’ll be making them again! The key is to make sure that you don’t overbeat the mixture before spooning them onto the baking sheets. You wind up with a cookie that has a deep chocolaty flavor, a chewy, melt-in-your-mouth consistency, and a crunch from the walnuts.

While these are easy to make in your own kitchen, I’m happy to report that you can indulge some of your Francois Payard cravings again! He’s signed on as Culinary Director at KarVer in Brooklyn, which just re-opened in January. And they’ll be opening a Chelsea location any day now.

I adore you, Francois Payard and thank you for your cookie recipe !

Happy delicious Passover!


François Payard’s Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies
François Payard’s Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies
Print Recipe François Payard’s Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Course: Comfort, Dessert, French, Holiday, Spring, Vegetarian


  • 2 3/4 cups walnut halves
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Spread the walnut halves on a large-rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 9 minutes, until they are golden and fragrant.
  • Let cool slightly, then transfer the walnut halves to a work surface and coarsely chop them. Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and lower temperature to 320. Line two large-rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, whisk (or combine in an electric mixer on low speed) the confectioners’ sugar with the cocoa powder and salt followed by the chopped walnuts. While whisking (or once you change the speed to medium), add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened (do not overbeat or it will stiffen).
  • Spoon the batter onto the baking sheets in 12 evenly spaced mounds, and bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through to ensure even baking. Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto 2 wire racks. Let cookies cool completely, and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.