This recipe comes from David Rocco’s groovy Dolce Vita travelogue series: episode ‘A Room with a View.’ It will be my first attempt at this aptly named Italian cookie. Brutti = ugly. Buoni = good.
Having wanted to try this recipe for such a long time I proceeded today even though a stock check of my now apparently depleted pantry has left me with not enough ingredients. No problem. I can manage half of the recipe with the added benefit of loss of only half the ingredients, should it not turn out. I also went with sliced almonds rather than whole. It was what I had. I did manage to find my Madagascar vanilla that had been MIA.
You might wonder why I’d so readily admit the above, especially when I am most usually sure of recipe outcomes, with the exception of the first crack at a new gluten free recipe. In researching for this aptly named Italian sweet I found as many different recipes as there are chefs. In fact, I cannot remember ever finding so many discrepancies for one recipe.
Not only were there differences in ingredients AND amounts of hazelnuts vs almonds vs a combo of the two but of the amount of egg whites as well as sugar. After some deliberation and trying hard to remember what they tasted like when I had them a few years ago from a bakery in Campo di Fiori in Rome, I went with this recipe because it was the most interesting. Rather than just egg whites, sugar & nuts, it also included some cocoa powder and a bit of flour.
…in Campo di Fiori, Rome
I did alter the recipe somewhat, by adding the sugar when the egg whites reached soft peaks – rather than folding it in at the end – I just had to go with my instinct. As well, rather than butter and flour a cookie sheet, I used parchment paper. They resisted just slightly, before peeling off, so I suppose a quick shot of cooking spray wouldn’t have been amiss. Makes: 24 cookies.
Butter for greasing the cookie sheet
Flour for dusting the buttered cookie sheet (or see above for alternate)
6 egg whites
1 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon all purpose flour (I used GF flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto
Preheat the oven to 350° Prep 2 cookie sheets to your liking (see above).
In a bowl, beat the egg whites, until soft peaks form. Gently fold in the hazelnuts, almonds, sugar, cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon of flour, vanilla, and amaretto until all the ingredients are evenly distributed (without deflating the egg whites too much).
Spoon blobs or heaping tablespoons of batter onto a cookie sheet, leaving approximately 1 inch between each cookie, as they will spread/grow. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
If you prefer chewier cookies, under bake them slightly. Remove the cookies from the oven, transfer them to a wire rack, and let rest for a 1/2 hour, or until cooled.