An Almost-Flourless Cookie That's Basically a Brownie

December 17, 2016

Certain recipe names promise a lot. If you call your pasta “four-cheese,” I’ll be expecting serious cheese flavor. A cracker called “crispy flatbreads” better measure up. And a cookie recipe titled “chocolate truffle cookies” whispers of gooey, rich, lusciousness ahead.

I am happy to announce that this cookie fully delivers on that promise. I've eaten, and even baked, lots of versions of this kind of cookie: fudgy and brownie-like on the inside with a thin crust that crackles delicately with each bite. Most of them are flourless, but this one is not.

Photo by Posie Harwood

Adding a touch of flour to the batter keeps the cookie from being too much like a truffle in the center. It still has chew and texture and enough of a crumb that you could happily dunk it in a glass of milk.

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The technique for making the batter is a neat one too: You melt the butter and most of the chocolate together, and fold that into the base of your batter. Once you finish the batter, you let it cool slightly and then fold in more chocolate (chunks or chips or shards). The resulting dough has both pockets of toothsome chocolate and a background flavor of melted chocolate.

Pre- and post-baking (that salt! that fudgy inside!). Photo by Posie Harwood

I highly recommend not skimping on the flaky sea salt on top. It's not crucial, but it helps to emphasis the chocolate and the sweetness. Ditto for the espresso powder, which is a wonderful ingredient to keep on hand if you are a baker. Just a pinch won't make your recipes taste like coffee, but will greatly enhance the flavor of chocolate.

Posie Harwood is a writer, photographer, and food stylist based in New York. You can read more of her writing here.

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Top Comment:
“I skipped the salt (I just find that combination repulsive) and didn't have the espresso- you could add all sorts of flavorants- orange oil, mint, any sort of extract, or things like chopped nuts- it's pretty much naked chocolate (not a bad thing) without. Could be a fun recipe to experiment with.”
— Smaug

Tell us: Do you like flakey salt on your cookies? (Because we certainly do.)

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • evelyn
  • Sieglinde
  • Mary De Backer Keltner
    Mary De Backer Keltner
  • krikri
  • Sydnye WhitakerWilke
    Sydnye WhitakerWilke
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


evelyn May 5, 2017
Is there a reason you use bittersweet chocolate? What would happen if I use semisweet? Thx!
Posie (. May 5, 2017
You can do that! It'll just be slightly sweeter.
Lulu March 22, 2019
Beteersweet and semisweet are the same, you can use either
Lulu March 22, 2019
Bittersweet and semisweet, sorry for typo
Sieglinde May 5, 2017
How much is 2 cups of chocolate in grams?
(I'll never understand why Americans hold on to their cups. It's so much easier and so much more precise to use metrics instead. Sigh.)
Mary D. December 23, 2016
This recipe sounds fantastic, but I am wondering if a fine matzoh meal could be substituted for the 1/4 cup of flour to make it possible to use it for Passover??
Posie (. December 23, 2016
Hm interesting thought! I've not tried this but definitely think it would be doable since there is so little flour. Let me know how it turns out!
krikri December 23, 2016
I am definitely going to make this, but first, a stupid question: What exactly is espresso powder? How is it different from instant coffee? I'm not sure what to look for here in Portugal.
Posie (. December 23, 2016
Not a silly question at all! Espresso powder is made from actual espresso beans that have been ground, brewed, then dried -- it's much richer and more concentrated than instant coffee (for example, you wouldn't use it to actually make coffee, just to bake). I wouldn't suggest using instant coffee because it won't give the same kick and you'd need more, which can impart sort of a bitter coffee taste. You can totally just leave it out of the recipe -- it's not mandatory it just helps to emphasis the chocolate flavor. I think you could try using leftover espresso grounds and drying them on a sheet pan at a really low oven temp? Or, you can order it online!
krikri December 23, 2016
But I *want* to include it! It sounds delicious! Thank you very much for the info - I'm off to make coffee now (and save the grounds). Boas festas!
Sydnye W. December 18, 2016
I made vegan gluten free version. Excellent, although I will have to work on a binder as my version was a bit crumbly. Taste is excellent.
Teresa B. December 18, 2016
How much chocolate would this be if not using chips? About 12 ounces?
Posie (. December 18, 2016
Yup just about that!
mrslarkin December 18, 2016
I used Nestle morsels and a gluten free flour mix. These were delicious! Will make again. Thanks, Posie!
Smaug December 18, 2016
Interesting recipe, and very easy. I was mostly interested in how it would work structurally- I don't have much background in confectionery. Quite well, as it turned out, though they took a little longer than advertised to bake. The chocolate (12 0z., by the way) is most of the content of these cookies, and I don't think chocolate chips are the best choice; I used Lindt 70% for the melted chocolate and Guittard Extra Dark chips for the rest- it was still a bit on the sweet side. Then again, my espresso powder had gone bad on me, it would have balanced much better with it. Assembly was easy, although as befits a recipe with melted chocolate, things got a little messy. I skipped the brief chill- the batter was quite stiff without it, and the cookies didn't spread much. I skipped the salt (I just find that combination repulsive) and didn't have the espresso- you could add all sorts of flavorants- orange oil, mint, any sort of extract, or things like chopped nuts- it's pretty much naked chocolate (not a bad thing) without. Could be a fun recipe to experiment with.
Smaug December 19, 2016
Those didn't last long- tried a 2.0 version with the expresso, and a bit less sugar (I almost always end up cutting sugar and omitting salt in dessert recipes), with some maple syrup. It was stiff enough to roll into balls with wet hands, and I rolled some in coconut, some in chopped walnuts. Came out just about right for me, but these really are more truffle than cookie. I think my batter may be stiffer than the author's (more like a dough really)- maybe I beat the egg more, or had the chocolate hotter when I added it.
shahira December 18, 2016
Can you make these ahead and freeze?
Posie (. December 19, 2016
I haven't frozen them (they were too delicious to last long, ha!) but I think they'd be great. The inside is brownie-like, and brownies freeze well. The outside might not shatter as delicately but it'd be fine.
Sydnye W. December 18, 2016
What would be good butter replacement to make these dairy free?
erin December 18, 2016
Refined coconut oil works wonders
Smaug December 18, 2016
The butter just seems to smooth out the melted chocolate a bit- you could certainly use margarine, probably vegetable oil would be ok- I think you could skip it entirely without disaster.
Sydnye W. December 18, 2016
Thank you
Sydnye W. December 18, 2016
Thank you. Good to know what it's there for. Helps me know what to expect.
Posie (. December 17, 2016
You can skip it! It's optional. It just enhances the chocolate but best not to use a substitute.
Chelsea December 17, 2016
I am all out of espresso powder. But I do have several packs of nesspresso pods. Do you think if I open one and use a pinch of that would it work?? Or would it be best to use the liquid espresso and risk altering the recipe? Any advice would be appreciated.
SweetSusan December 17, 2016
First time I used flaky salt on top of cookies was making Amanda's Chewy Vanilla Spice Cookies with Chocolate Chunks. Totally loved it.
NWB December 17, 2016
Could you substitute a different flour or cocoa powder for a gluten free version?
Posie (. December 17, 2016
Hm, definitely you can try subbing a GF all-purpose flour. I haven't tried it so I can't vouch for the results!
Smaug December 17, 2016
No, I do not like flaky salt on my cookies.
Posie (. December 17, 2016
You may MOST certainly leave that off. Dessert should be just the way you like it.
Ellise December 26, 2016
Where can I get flaky salt locally (live in Louisiana)? I've never looked for it before and assume it's not at the regular grocery store. Thanks!
Donna H. March 16, 2017
Try any specialty food store. Look for Fleur de sell or Maldon Flake salt. Both are lovely finishing salts!