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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Baking · Cookies

Cappuccino Biscotti with Chocolate Chips.

Rachel:

‘Look look look look look! My first paycheck. Look at the little window. There’s my name. Hi, me! Isn’t this exciting! I earned this. I wiped tables for it, I steamed milk for it, and it’s – not worth it. Who’s FICA? Why is he getting all my money?

[Friends, Series 1 episode  4]

Now regardless of the amount of money you earn, I’m sure we’ve all felt like this when looking at our paychecks – not complaining about the pay itself, but having the sudden realisation that being quoted a certain salary doesn’t mean you actually get all that money. In my case, I sat down to work out what would be taken off and due to some bad arithmetic on my part ended up panicking that I didn’t actually have enough money to live!

These biscuits are a good thing to make when times are feeling particularly hard, as the majority of the ingredients you will be likely to have in the house already, especially if you are a regular baker. They are very quick to make, and last a long time if stored correctly so will help you in those times when you need something sweet but the bank balance is saying ‘No’!

Coffee and Chocolate Biscotti

The recipe is taken from one of my funniest cookbooks ‘Cooking With “Friends”‘, a present from my dad who found it in the local charity shop. For those ‘Friends’ afficionado’s amongst us, it gives you recipes for Phoebe’s oatmeal and raisin cookies, Nora Bing’s Kung Phao Chicken and George Stephanopoulos’s pizza (I will be very happy if there are other people out there who get all these references!) This recipe for biscotti is taken from a section on Central Perk, and if they serve these, then I would also be there all the time!

Cappuccino Biscotti with Chocolate Chips

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 cup strong black coffee
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a bowl and briefly mix. Stir the milk in the coffee before adding the vanilla extract and egg yolk. Mix well then add to the dry ingredients and stir to make a smooth dough (add a little more milk if necessary). Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips.

Line a baking sheet with paper. Roll half the mixture into a log, place on the baking sheet and repeat with the other half of the mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes until firm to the touch, but not completely cooked. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 325°F. Cut the logs into slices 3/4in wide and place on their side on the baking sheet. Return to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes until crisp.

Stored in an airtight container, these will keep for at least a week.