Brutti ma Buoni are a chewy and crunchy biscuit or ‘cookie’, consisting basically of meringue and hazlenuts. Their origin is from Gavirate (province of Varese) in Lombardia, dating back to 1878. Their name comes from the way they look, and it literally translates to ‘Ugly but Good’. You will actually find these in bakeries throughout Italy and often Brutti ma Buoni are their best sellers! There is actually no precise form to these, and you will see they vary a little in appearance from bakery to bakery. They usually only have four ingredients, and to me are similar in consistency to a coconut macaroon, crunchy on the outside, chewy inside. The main ingredient is egg white, and then hazlenuts are used, sometimes also with almonds. Although the recipe is easy, if you don’t have enough nuts in proportion to the egg whites, your ‘brutti ma buoni’ won’t be little mountains but will resemble flat pancakes. (Trust me, I speak from experience)!
Some recipes ask you to stir the egg white and nuts on a low heat before spooning the mixture onto a baking tray and putting them in the oven. I find it easier to make a sugar syrup and ‘cook’ the egg whites by adding the sugar syrup to the egg whites while they are being whisked to form stiff peaks. These are quite addictive, and as the Italians say, ‘una tira l’altro’ – one leads to another!
Brutti ma Buoni
- 180g egg whites (about 5 egg whites)
- 70ml water
- 80g caster sugar
- 250g icing sugar
- 600g hazlenuts, lightly toasted (or half hazlenuts, half almonds)
- Preheat the oven to 200°C, and spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 12 minutes, until the nuts are fragrant and the skins blister. Put aside and allow to cool.
- In a food processor, pulse the hazlenuts until they are roughly chopped. You don’t want them finely ground.
- Add the water and caster sugar to a small saucepan, and bring to a boil, to form a sugar syrup.
- Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, begin whisking the egg whites until they form stiff, foamy peaks. With the mixer on, slowly add the sugar syrup to the mixture in a steady stream.
- Add the icing sugar and continue mixing until the eggs are white and glossy.
- Use a spatula and gently fold the hazlenuts into the meringue.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper and either spoon mounds of the mixture onto the tray or use a piping bag.
- Bake at 150°C for about 35 minutes or until they are lightly golden. (Watch the first batch carefully to regulate cooking times as ovens vary from home to home.)
- Allow to cool a little before transferring them to a wire cake rack to cool completely. Keep in an air-tight container.
Brutti ma Buoni
- 180g albume
- 70ml acqua
- 80g zucchero semolato
- 250g zucchero a velo
- 600g nocciole (o metà nocciole e metà mandorle)
- Preriscaldare il forno a 200°C, e diffondere le nocciole su una teglia e fatele tostare per circa 12 minuti. Mettere da parte e lasciarle raffreddare.
- In un robot da cucina, pulsare le nocciole finché non vengono tritati grossolanamente.
- Aggiungere l’acqua e lo zucchero semolato in una piccola pentola e portate ad ebollizione, in modo da formare uno sciroppo di zucchero.
- Utilizzando una planetaria dotata di una frusta, iniziare a montare a neve gli albumi. Aggiungere lentamente lo sciroppo di zucchero alla miscela in un flusso costante. Montate e poi incorporate lo zucchero a velo. Continuate a montare fino a quando non otterrete una meringa soda, bianca e lucida.
- Utilizzando un mestolo, delicatamente incorporare le nocciole nella meringa.
- Rivestite una teglia da forno di carta forno e disponetevi sopra delle palline irregolari di impasto aiutandovi con un cucchiaio, o utilizzare una sac a poche.
- Cuocere in forno a 150 ° C per circa 35 minuti o fino a quando sono leggermente dorate. (Guarda i primi biscotti in forno con attenzione per regolare il tempo di cottura, perchè i forni variano da casa a casa.)
- Sfornateli e lasciateli raffreddare.