The name Brutti ma Buoni (|”Ugly but Good”) doesn't do these hazelnut biscuits justice. These crunchy, nutty discs are far more than good, requiring just four ingredients for every hazelnut lover's dream. Brutti ma Buoni cookies may have an unclear origin, but what is certain is their popularity in households across Italy. This simple recipe can be altered to make almond biscuits if they're more to your liking, giving you a reason to make them again and again.
The reassuring aspect of Brutti ma Buoni is you don't have to worry about them looking good — it's all in the taste. Hazelnuts have a buttery-sweet flavour with earthy hints, favoured by bakers for this reason. Their nutty flavour is balanced with the vanilla's fruitier sweetness and resinous aroma. Brutti ma Buoni provides all the crunch that classic biscotti offers, making it a perfect accompaniment to a steaming cup of coffee.
Brutti ma Buoni (“Ugly but Good” Hazelnut Biscuits)
Makes around 20 biscuits - Cook in 1 1/4 hour
- 150g egg whites, room temperature
- 200g caster sugar
- 300g hazelnuts
- 1 vanilla pod
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius (°C). Place hazelnuts on a baking tray and bake for approximately 10-15 minutes, until the nuts are lightly coloured and skins blistered. Place the hazelnuts in a kitchen town, leave to cool, and then rub vigorously to remove skins. Using a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts until finely chopped (N.B. You don’t want large chunks, but be careful not to make hazelnut butter either).
Place the egg whites (at room temperature) in a bowl and begin to whisk; you can either use a hand whisk or electric mixer. Add one by one the vanilla pod seeds, and when the egg whites are light and fluffy, add the caster sugar. Continue to whip at medium speed for 5 minutes until stiff peaks form. Add little by little, the chopped hazelnuts into the meringue, and using a spatula, gently fold to combine. Transfer the mixture into a saucepan and cook over a medium flame, stirring continuously for approximately 7-10 minutes. The mixture will thicken like porridge and darken.
Spoon tablespoon-size mounds of the hazelnut mixture on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, 1-inch apart. Bake at 130 degrees Celsius (°C) for 45 minutes. Leave to cool before lifting from the tray. Brutti ma Buoni should be dry (but not burnt!), and the inside must be dry and not soft — keep in mind that they will harden a little. (N.B. Each oven is different, so it might be worth baking a batch of few biscuits to better adjust oven characteristics for the following ones). Buon Appetito!