Brutti ma Buoni:
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
4 large (120 grams) egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons (30 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (125 grams) whole raw hazelnuts
Confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
Note. Can replace the hazelnuts with 1 1/2 cups (270 grams) nougat milk chocolate bar (Toblerone), chopped. You will need almost 3 - 3.52 ounce (3 - 100 grams) Toblerone bars.
Brutti ma Buoni: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until fragrant and the skins begin to flake. Remove from oven and place the hot nuts in a clean dish towel. Roll up the towel and let the nuts sit (steam) for about ten minutes and then rub the nuts in the towel briskly to remove the skins. Let them cool completely and then coarsely chop.
In a heatproof bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water, cook the sugar and egg whites, whisking constantly, until opaque in color and hot to the touch (about 5-10 minutes).
Remove from heat, transfer to the bowl of your electric mixer (can use a hand mixer), and beat until thick and glossy (like a thick meringue) (about 5 minutes). At this point beat in the vanilla extract and then fold in the flour and chopped hazelnuts.
Place heaping tablespoonfuls (or use a small ice cream scoop) about two inches apart onto your prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies for about 20 - 25 minutes or until light brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioners sugar before serving.
These cookies are best the day they are made, but they can be stored at room temperature for a few days.
Makes about 30 cookies.
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin is widely quoted as saying "The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star." While this quotation may be overused, it is what came to mind after I made Brutti ma Buoni for the first time. Brutti ma Buoni is an Italian cookie similar to a meringue cookie only it contains nuts. It has a wonderfully crisp exterior with a texture that is soft and chewy. Fantastic with a cup of tea or coffee.
Now, Brutti ma Buoni roughly translated means 'ugly but good'. Personally, I don't agree with that assessment, but maybe that is because I made these cookies a little differently. The classic recipe uses finely ground nuts, which are mixed right into the meringue batter. However, for the recipe given here, instead of finely grinding the nuts, they are just roughly chopped so when you bite into one, there are lovely chunks of hazelnuts. Don't worry, though, they still have that soft and chewy texture as only Brutti ma Buoni can have. And speaking of texture, these cookies contain flour, which is why they are soft and chewy instead of just melting away in your mouth like a regular meringue. Another difference these cookies have from a regular meringue is in how they are made. Instead of simply beating the egg whites with sugar until thick and glossy, the egg whites and sugar are first warmed on the stove until the mixture becomes opaque. This ensures that the egg whites reach their maximum volume when beaten and also helps prevent the cookies from spreading when baked. The finishing touch is to sprinkle a little confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar over the tops of the baked cookies. Brutti ma Buoni are at their best the day they are made, as their crisp exterior does soften with storage. Yet, I still enjoy them the next day, when their sweetness has softened and the hazelnut flavor takes center stage.
This recipe comes from The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook by Elizabeth Baird. She offers yet another rendition on Brutti ma Buoni that you might like to try. Instead of nuts she substitutes chopped nougat milk chocolate (that is a Toblerone bar). These are excellent. Sweet, yes, but if you love a Toblerone chocolate bar you will absolutely love these cookies.