“Ugly but Good” Hazelnut Cookies (Brutti ma Buoni)
These cookies originate from Tuscany and are now sold all over Italy, where they are referred to as brutti ma buoni or “ugly but good”. They also are known as mandorlati di San Clemente. These cookies go well with coffee or tea.
What they lack in attractiveness they make up for in taste and texture. The cookie is double cooked – on the stovetop and in the oven – changing the nature of the dough and producing a firm, craggy outside and a slight chew of the dense middle.
Most recipes (there are many versions!) include only three ingredients – hazelnuts, sugar, egg whites – but the proportions of each differ depending on the recipe and some skip the stovetop cooking step altogether. After much research, I found that the version below is the most authentic.
For a more detailed description and explanation of "Ugly but Good" cookies and how to make this recipe, please see myblog postfrom 30 October, 2021.
“Ugly but Good” Hazelnut Cookies / Brutti ma Buoni
Preparation time 30 minutes Bake time 30 minutes Makes 30 cookies
60 grams (about 2) egg whites
135 grams (⅓ cup) sugar
200 grams (7 ounces or 2 cups) hazelnut flour
Preheat oven to 150C (300F).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Measure all the ingredients.
In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites and salt until foamy. Continue beating, adding the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, until all of the sugar is incorporated and the egg whites hold firm peaks.
Fold in the ground hazelnuts into the egg whites and then scrape the mixture into a wide, heavy saucepan and set over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the batter comes away from the sides of the pan, about 5-8 minutes. Cooking the mixture will thicken and darken it from beige to a light golden brown.
Remove the pan from the heat. Leave the dough to rest for five minutes.
Use two small spoons to form small walnut-sized mounds – one spoon to scoop up batter and the other to scrape it off the first spoon, rounding it somewhat as you do. You can avoid the two-spoon step and use a single spoon to scoop out the dough; the cookies will be slightly more “ugly” but they will taste the same. Drop the mounds onto the prepared sheet, making sure to space them apart from each other.
Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 30 minutes.
Cool cookies completely before serving. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.