Exclusive Dish: Chewy Chocolate Walnut Cookie

First-time customers at Chanticleer Café and Bakery in Cary might be reassured by the staff when contemplating a Chewy Chocolate Walnut Cookie. Don’t be put off by the rough exterior, they say; the taste will win you over.

But to owner Craig Freeman, the popular dessert is a thing of beauty.

“I love the way they look,” he said. “They’re crack-y and shiny, but once you take a bite, that’s when they really start to shine. They have a crispy outside, and a soft, fudgy, brownie-like center. There’s a lot to love about this cookie.”

The treat is gluten-free and dairy-free, so those on special diets can indulge their sweet tooth. But don’t let all those “frees” put you off. Packed with walnuts, the cookie is also full of chocolatey goodness.

“It’s good for anybody except someone with nut allergies,” said Freeman. “There’s no butter in it, no egg yolks. There’s no fat in the cookie, except what is in the walnuts, and that’s your healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It does have a lot of sugar, so it’s not carb-free by any means.”

He started making the cookie in New York while working at Payard Patisserie & Bistro, founded by renowned pastry chef François Payard. Freeman, a North Carolina native, returned to the Triangle in 2008 and opened catering company Edible Accolades.

In June 2015, Freeman returned to the restaurant business with the opening of Chanticleer. Since then he has enjoyed meeting customers and getting to know the regulars who come in for Joe Van Gogh coffee and fresh-baked treats.

“I see the same people coming in, every morning, every afternoon,” he said. “The biggest thrill for me is when someone comes up to me and says, ‘That was a great blank,’ or ‘That was the best blank I’ve ever had.’”

Chanticleer is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, serving fresh bakery items and lunch.

Chewy Chocolate Walnut Cookies
Courtesy of Craig Freeman, Chanticleer Café & Bakery
Makes about a dozen 4-inch cookies

2½  cups (11 ounces) walnut halves
3     cups (14 ounces) powdered sugar
¾    cup (2.2 ounces) cocoa powder (use Dutch-process cocoa for a darker color and a
more intense flavor)
¼    teaspoon salt
4     large egg whites (4 ½ ounces)
1     tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

To toast walnuts, spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the nuts are light brown and fragrant. Once walnuts are cool, chop coarsely.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt; mix with a rubber spatula until thoroughly blended. Stir in chopped walnuts, and mix until they are coated with dry mixture. Add egg whites and vanilla. Mix until batter is moistened; it should be thick and goopy.

With an ice cream scoop or level 1/3 cup measure, scoop the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, about 3 inches apart. The cookies will spread considerably.

Bake at 325 degrees for 16 to 18 minutes, or until the tops become shiny and small thin cracks appear on the surface of the cookies. Let cookies cool completely before removing from the pan. Store in an airtight container for up to two days.

Note: If making smaller cookies, reduce the baking time slightly.


Chanticleer Cafe & Bakery
6490 Tryon Road, Cary
(919) 781-4810

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