Baking · Cookies · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

Piedmont: Brutti Ma Buoni

coat of arms of Italian region Piedmont

These biscuits have a sad life, the ugly duckling of the baking world. Burdened with the name Brutti Ma Buoni, these biscuits are literally called ‘Ugly but Good.’ Not really the best description, when – let’s face it – they’re more plain Jane than Ugly Betty. However, moving past the name, these biscuits really metamorphose into the swan – tasty, crunchy and slightly chewy, they are just the thing to accompany your afternoon caffeine hit. Whilst the initial response to the name may be unfortunate, the second part is as true as it can be.

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I have added chocolate chips to the mixture which are not traditional and may be left out if desired. However, I personally think that the biscuits are improved by the inclusion of these little chocolate-y morsels. You could also add in larger pieces of hazelnut in, or even pieces of dried fruit if preferred, however if you can resist the combination of chocolate and hazelnut you are a stronger person than I!

Brutti Ma Buoni

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 325°F/165°C/Gas Mark 5 and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place your oven shelves as close to the middle as possible.

Spread the hazelnuts out on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes, shaking the tray occasionally. Remove from the oven and rub he nuts in a clean tea towel in order to remove the skins. Place the skinned hazelnuts in a food processor and blend with the sugar until it forms a finely ground mixture. Scrape this mixture into a large bowl.

Using a electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the nut mixture using a rubber spatula before gently mixing in the vanilla.

Place tablespoons of the batter onto the baking trays and bake for 25-30 minutes, until firm and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool, before repeating with the remains of the mixture if necessary. Serve with coffee and enjoy!

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