Brutti ma Buoni: Ugly but Delicious Italian cookies

Brutti ma Buoni (Ugly but Good) are delicious Italian cookies typical of Northern Italy, especially Piedmont. They are free of yeast, milk and butter and also gluten-free because they don’t contain wheat flour.

The recipe is very easy and quick to make with very few ingredients: egg whites, sugar and hazelnuts, nothing else! It takes a few minutes to make a meringue with the egg whites and sugar, then add the chopped hazelnuts, finally bake for about 40 minutes.

These delicious cookies get their name from their rough and therefore ugly “irregular” appearance, but absolutely delicious to the palate.

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Brutti ma Buoni cookies have a very light and crumbly texture. They are crunchy on the outside and slightly soft on the inside.

You can also make these Ugly but Good Hazelnut Cookies at the last minute, perhaps when friends are arriving for a somewhat impromptu dinner party, and you don’t want to leave them without dessert.

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Brutti ma Buoni are great as a dessert, served with coffee or as a tasty snack; they can be accompanied by sweet or fortified wines.

All that remains is for you to see in detail the recipe for making Brutti ma Buoni cookies. You will see how easy it is to make these ugly but delicious Italian treats.

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  • Prep Time: 10 Min
  • Cook Time: 40 Min
  • Servings: about 25 cookies

Brutti ma Buoni Recipe: Instructions

brutti ma buoni cookies recipe step 1

Step 1) – First, grind the hazelnuts with an electric food processor and set aside.

PLEASE NOTE: The degree to which you grind the hazelnuts is subjective and depends on your taste. Some people prefer cookies with a softer texture and grind the hazelnuts finer. Those who prefer a more rustic texture and look will grind the hazelnuts more coarsely or use a ready-made hazelnut flour as recommended in the ingredients.

brutti ma buoni cookies recipe step 2

Step 2) – Take two eggs at room temperature and separate the whites from the yolks.

Then beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff.

You don’t need the yolks for this recipe but you can reuse them for other recipes. For example, to make a delicious crema pasticcera!

brutti ma buoni cookies recipe step 3

Step 3) – Next, add the sugar a little at a time while keeping whisking.

If you like, at this step you can flavor with half a teaspoon of vanilla extract or the seeds of half a vanilla pod.

You will end up with a smooth and shiny meringue.

brutti ma buoni cookies recipe step 4

Step 4) – Now add the chopped hazelnuts a little at a time to the egg whites and mix gently with a spatula. The mixture should be thick and foamy.

brutti ma buoni cookies recipe step 5

Step 5) – Prepare a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

Take a scoop of mixture and place it on the baking sheet. Arrange the spoonfuls of dough at a distance from each other.

It’s not necessary to be very precise, but try to make them all the same size.

Bake in a preheated static oven at 150°C (300°F) on the medium-high rack for about 15 minutes.

When you see the typical crust and the cookies are starting to brown, reduce the temperature to 120°C (250°F) and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool.

The Brutti ma Buoni cookies are ready and you can enjoy them in all their crunchiness!

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You can store Homemade Brutti ma Buoni cookies in a tin or glass box for about 10 days.

Freezing is not recommended.

Brutti ma Buoni Cookies: Two Different Cooking Methods

There are two ways to bake the Brutti ma Buoni.

#1 – The first method is the one described in the steps above. The dough is placed in the pan with the help of a spoon and immediately baked with two temperature steps.

#2 – The second method involves “pre-cooking” the dough in a saucepan for a few minutes, stirring continuously, before it’s baked.

Pour the mixture into a shallow, wide steel saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring gently for about 7 to 8 minutes. This will serve to dry out the meringue and make the cookies crispier.

Then turn off the heat and scoop out spoonfuls of the mixture, which you will arrange on the baking paper.

Finally bake as suggested in step 5.

The result changes considerably from one method to the other.

In the first case you will have cookies with a light and crumbly texture, but with a slightly soft heart.

In the second case, the Brutti ma Buoni will turn out crispier and harder, similar to a torrone.

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Brutti ma Buoni: Some Variations

What we have shown you is the Authentic Recipe of Brutti ma Buoni Biscotti, originating in Borgomanero in the province of Novara (Piedmont). They are obviously loved and known throughout Italy.

  • Other Type of Nuts: You can make your Brutti ma Buoni by replacing the hazelnuts with other nuts of your liking. Very tasty and worth trying is the version with hazelnuts, pine nuts and almonds together.
  • Chocolate: For an even more mouth-watering variation, after baking the Brutti ma Buoni, you can quickly dip them in melted dark chocolate. Some recipes call for Brutti ma Buoni thus prepared to be dusted with icing sugar.
  • Cinnamon: If you love cinnamon – and for the Christmas season it’s very appropriate – you can add half a teaspoon of it to the dough. This variant with cinnamon is very popular in the Milan area. In the run-up to Christmas, it’s customary to package homemade Brutti ma Buoni cookies in themed boxes for friends. They are always a very welcome gift!

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Bruttiboni or Mandorlati di San Clemente

Like any traditional recipe, there are different versions of Brutti ma Buoni depending on the Italian region.

For example, Prato’s Bruttiboni, also known as Mandorlati di San Clemente, which resemble in appearance but are made with almonds.

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History and Origins of Brutti ma Buoni Cookies

Brutti ma buoni are famous Italian cookies with a controversial origin.

According to one theory, Brutti ma Buoni were born in 1878 in Gavirate, in the province of Varese, in the old pastry shop of Costantino Veniani.

The pastry shop, which still exists, counted among its customers Giuseppe Verdi, who was a great admirer of Brutti ma Buoni cookies, as well as Giosuè Carducci and Elena di Savoia.

It’s said that the queen, on her way from Milan to visit her maid in Ternate, stopped in Gavirate to buy these irresistible cookies.

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However, many believe that these pastries originated in the town of Borgomanero, in the province of Novara.

The discovery would date back to 1869, when the confectioner Viganotti, arrived in Borgomanero and opened a pastry shop in Corso Mazzini.

In 1905, Viganotti was awarded a gold medal at the 22nd International Exhibition of “Culinarie d’alimentation et d’hygiene” in Paris, at the Jardin des Tuileries.

Anyway, in the following years these cookies spread in most regions of Northern Italy.

The best known and most traditional, the real “Brut e Bon” from Piedmont, are certainly those with the IGP Hazelnut Tonda Gentile delle Langhe, an Italian excellence known throughout the world.

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1 thought on “Brutti ma Buoni: Ugly but Delicious Italian cookies”

  1. I come from an Italian family but noone ever made these. I decided to make them for Christmas. I love them. I gave some to my brother and he also loved the. Thanks for the great recipe.


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