A cookie can be so many different things–the basic drop, sliced icebox, piped/pressed, cut-out, etc. But this, what is this? Croquants don’t fit any of the familiar above descriptions. Literally, croquant means “crunchy” or “crisp” in French, a perfect way to explain the nature of this sweet little bite.While perusing Ready for Dessert, I came across these mysterious cookies. In his headnote to the recipe, Lebovitz describes them as “wispy,” “crackly,” and “lightly caramelized.” I was in.
But the unusual ingredient list and method incurred some doubt. How could five basic ingredients (and one of them being a pinch of salt) produce the addictive cookie Lebovitz promised? And the making the croquants was almost too easy. Whisk sugar and flour, add egg whites and salt, stir in almonds. Bake. What?!?But these croquants certainly did deliver. They are airy, crunchy, and crispy as promised, quite sweet, caramelized into a gorgeous golden hue, and studded with toasted almonds. They shatter under a small bite, which is all you really need to polish a tiny one off.
Makes about 60 small cookies
1 cup (200 g) sugar
5 1/2 tablespoons (50 g) all-purpose flour
2 large (1/4 cup, 60 ml) egg whites
pinch of salt
3/4 cup (100 g) almonds or hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped into rough halves or thirds
Position 2 racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. (Don’t use silicon baking mats–the croquets won’t be as crisp.)
In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar and flour, then add the egg whites and salt and whisk until smooth. Switch to a spatula or wooden spoon to stir in the almonds (or hazelnuts).*
Drop level teaspoon measurements of batter at least 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. (This will yield small cookies; I made the first batch this size then made some larger cookies in subsequent batches.)
Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through baking, until the cookies are golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheets. Store the croquants in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
*The batter can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen up to 1 month. Let the batter come to room temperature before spooning and baking.