Ugly but Good Cookies (Brutti ma Buoni)
These delicious hazelnut cookies, known as ugly but good ( brutti ma buoni in Italian), come from northern Italy. The origins are unsure, some say Piedmont, others Lombardy. Whatever the history, I can tell you that they are very delicious and, in the end, this is what matters most.
The term ugly but good is quite appropriate because these cookies don’t look too attractive but vanish off the serving plate in minutes. You need only three ingredients: hazelnuts, sugar and egg white.
The exterior is wonderfully crisp and the interior soft and chewy.
As they are without flour, they are perfect for who is intolerant to gluten. All their fat comes from the natural oils in the hazelnuts and they are held together by nothing more than beaten egg whites.
Don’t worry if these cookies are irregularly shaped and lumpy. The shape should not be too smooth, so they can turn out “ugly”
For more Italian cookie recipes, be sure to check out my Baci di Dama (Italian Hazelnut Cookies), Cantucci, and Savoiardi (Ladyfingers).
HOW TO MAKE IT: Ugly but Good Cookies
- 1 egg white
- a pinch of salt
- ⅓ cup + ½ tablespoon (80g) granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup (100 g) hazelnuts
- Toast the hazelnuts in the oven at 356 degrees F (180 degrees C). Spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast until the skins are mostly split and the nuts are light golden brown and fragrant (about 15 minutes).
- Remove from the oven and rub the hazelnuts until the loose skins come off.
- Let them cool completely and pulse in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Beat the egg white and salt in a bowl with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
- Gently fold in the sugar and nuts.
- Spoon the batter on the baking sheet with a teaspoon or a tablespoon (it depends on how big you want your cookies) about 1.5 inches (4 cm) apart.
- Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool.
- Store the ugly but good cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
I ate these biscuits in milan nasty but nice was how the waiter explained them. Best thing ive tasted they were beautiful and he was right ugly but nice.
A lovely simple recipe that delivers excellent results. I have fond memories of making these as a child in Italy.
So glad you liked this recipe, Philip! Thank you for the comment! :)
I made these as a homemade Valentine to my husband of 30+ years. They were fabulous and I will try other nuts over time but I believe hazelnuts are the way to go!
So glad to hear that! :) They are my favorite cookies (I love hazelnuts)! :)
Hello! This recipe looks easy and delicious so I’ll definitely try it. Just one question, is it possible to buy already toasted nuts at the store and skip the first steps?
Hi A! Sure, you can buy toasted nuts.
I hope you will like them :)
Last time I ate them was 13 years ago while before I moved out Switzerland, they were always in my mind, I could never find them here where I live now and I finally found this recipe, it looks exactly how I would buy them in the stores in Switzerland!
I can’t wait to make them tomorrow.
Thank you so much for taking me back to some better times with this recipe!
I hope you will love them, Ragna! These are my favorite cookies :)