These soft little cookies are not only delicious but also gluten-free. They are quick to put together and can turn poached fruit or simple compote into a world-class dessert. And let’s not even talk... about how good they are with a cup of coffee or when feeling the need for something sweet after cancer treatment.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
Combine the walnuts and ½ cup of maple sugar into a food processor. Pulse until you have a fine meal. Processing the nuts with the maple sugar will stop the nuts from forming a paste and keep them mealy, which is the texture these cookies need. Pour into a large bowl. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites together with the cream of tartar until they form soft peaks. Gradually sift in the powdered sugar and whisk until it is completely combined. The egg whites will turn into to a thick glossy, creamy consistency.
Make a well in the nut mixture and tip in the egg whites. Mix together with a spatula to form a soft sticky dough. Wet your hands, and using a tablespoon measure, scoop out a little of the dough and roll it into a ball between your hands. Place the ball on a sheet pan and flatten the top slightly. Repeat until all the dough is used up. Leave space around each cookie.
Sprinkle the cookies with the remaining tablespoon of maple sugar. Bake on a middle shelf for about 12 to 15 minutes. The cookies will be pale with a slightly cracked surface and golden only underneath.
Place the sheet pan on a rack and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Move the cookies from the sheet pan onto the rack to finish cooling. Eat immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Egg whites rise easily if everything is very clean — they can separate if not. Adding a pinch of acidic cream of tartar to the egg whites will stabilize them, so if either the bowl or whisk is a little damp or greasy from other uses, your egg whites will still be perfect.
Instead of whole walnuts, walnut meal or flour are other options, if available.