It exists in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, kamut and spelt. Because it is such a common component of many foods, gluten intolerance can be a real pain for the sufferer, especially when it comes to dining out.

Luckily, there are a number of recipes available, specially formulated with sufferers in mind. One of the easiest ways to transform desserts to gluten-free variations is to avoid all gluten ingredients or replace them with gluten-free alternatives.

Cookies are a good dessert option, as they can easily accommodate most food allergies and you can replace flour with gluten-free options.

To make flourless chocolate-walnut cookies you will need 2¾ cups of walnut halves, 3 cups of icing sugar, ½ cup of Dutch cocoa powder, ½ teaspoon of salt, 4 large egg whites and 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Spread the walnuts on a large baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Let them cool before transferring them to a work surface to coarsely chop.

Position two racks on the upper and lower shelves of the oven and lower it to 160ºC. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar with the cocoa powder and salt before adding the chopped walnuts. While whisking, add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat until the batter is moist. Be sure not to overbeat, as this will stiffen the mixture.

Spoon the batter onto a baking sheet in 12 evenly spaced mounds and bake for about 15 minutes. The cookies will be ready when the tops are glossy and lightly cracked. Let the cookies cool completely before serving, or store in an airtight container for up to three days.

Other gluten-free dessert ideas can include fruit salad with whipped cream, or a chocolate mousse.

To make a chocolate and apple gluten-free cake, click here.

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