Bittersweet Chocolate Walnut Macaroon Cookies

Weekly Recipe: 

2 1/2 cups California walnuts, toasted

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup almond paste (3 1/2 ounces), cut in small pieces

3 egg whites

2 teaspoons water

1/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and cover cookie sheets with parchment paper. In food processor fitted with metal blade, combine walnuts and chocolate and process until finely ground. Add orange zest, cocoa powder, and salt, and process a few seconds more. Transfer mixture into large bowl. Put almond paste in food processor and process until it resembles small crumbs. Add one egg white and water, and process until combined. Set aside. In medium bowl, beat remaining two egg whites until soft peaks form, then gradually add sugar and continue beating until whites are stiff. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of chocolate walnut mixture over egg whites and fold together, then scoop egg whites on top of chocolate walnut mixture in large bowl. Add almond paste and stir together until thoroughly mixed. Macaroon dough will be firm enough to hold its shape, and a little sticky. Spread top of each wafer with generous tablespoon of dough and place about one inch apart, on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake about 18 minutes, until surface of macaroons looks dry, and feels dry to the touch. Cool for a minute on cookie sheets, then transfer to rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Recipe courtesy of the California Walnut Board