Brutti Ma Buoni – Ugly But Good Cookies

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For a very different type of cookie I thought I would try Brutti Ma Buoni, which is an Italian cookie, eaten at any time, but most often at Christmas.  The literal English translation of that name is Ugly But Good. 

These cookies are made with three, or four, ingredients only.  They are meringue based, with chopped hazelnuts and sugar, with vanilla if desired.  Crunchy on the outside they have that chewy meringue texture on the inside.  The degree of chewiness can be varied by the length on the baking time.  For mine I wanted to ensure that were very crunchy but also retained a good chewy texture.  So mine were baked for 50 minutes.  Longer would have dried the cookies out more to vary that texture.

They are very simple to make, but it does take a little time as the meringue and nut mixture has to be heated on a stove for a while.  Though I have seen some recipes that skip that step, just leaving the unheated mixture to sit for a few minutes before scooping onto a baking tray.

I was so pleased with how mine turned out.  They had a fantastic crunch to them as they were bitten into.  Then the mouth encounters the full blast of hazelnut flavour and that wonderfully chewy meringue.

These are a cookie that I shall be making again, very soon.

If you cannot buy ready chopped and roasted nuts you can just place hazelnuts on a baking tray and place in the oven at about 130C/265F for about 15 minutes, until you can smell the nutty aroma.  Then remove them and once cooled they can be finely chopped.

Brutti Ma Buoni – Ugly But Good Cookies

Brutti Ma Buoni – Ugly But Good Cookies – Video 
  • 300g (2 1/2 cups when chopped) finely chopped roasted hazelnuts.
  • 150g(120 ml + 1 tbsp) egg whites (that was just less than 5 full medium egg whites(large in USA).
  • 200g(1 cup) caster or granulated sugar
  • seeds from one vanilla pod(although I used 1/2 tsp of vanilla powder which is the equivalent)


  1. Line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer whisk the egg whites and vanilla until they are frothy.
  3. Continue to whisk at high speed ,while gradually adding the sugar, until the egg whites have reached the stiff peak stage.
  4. Gently fold in the chopped hazelnuts.
  5. Preheat the oven to 130C/265 F.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and, stirring all the while, place on a gentle heat until the mixture changes to a nice golden brown colour and it gets a bit stiffer as the moisture evaporates.  Mine took about 12 minutes.  Remember to keep stirring so the mixture doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan.
  7. Remove from the heat and spoon mounds of about 1 tbsp onto the baking trays, leaving a gap between each.
  8. Bake in the oven for 45 – 50 minutes(longer if you want the centre less chewy).
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking tray, for about 10 then gently peel off the paper.
  10. Transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
  11. The cookies become very crunchy on the outside and will still be chewy in the middle, and are then ready to serve. 
  12. They will store well in an airtight container for about 1 week.

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