BRUTTI MA BUONI… Ugly, but Oh So Good Italian Hazelnut Cookies!

by valentinalucia

It’s kind of a back-handed compliment – “brutti ma buoni.” Nobody would want to be referred to with this phrase, for it literally means, “ugly but good.” However, for these little cookies, it’s a perfectly fitting name. I’ve had this recipe bookmarked on my computer for so long now, and finally decided to give them a try – and boy, did it pay off! While they may look plain, don’t be fooled – they’re packed with nutty, sweet flavor, making them one of the most interesting traditional Italian cookies – Brutti Ma Buoni!

The first thought I had after biting into one of these cookies was, “Why didn’t I make the full recipe?!” They are SO good! I only made half the recipe, just because it was my first time making them and wanted to be careful. Now I know, for the next time, I’ll be making the full recipe so I can have a ton of these little treats!

The unique texture and fabulous taste make these cookies delicious. They don’t look it, but they are chewy in the middle and nicely crisp on the edges, giving them a great balance of crunchiness and chewiness. If you’re a hazelnut lover, as I am, these are the cookies for you – the hazelnuts really shine through the cookie in taste and texture. I was a tad bit worried they would be too sweet, because the base is really just sugar and hazelnuts. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they are well balanced with nutty richness and delicate sweetness. I’m thinking they’ll be fantastic dipped in a cup of coffee (hazelnut coffee if you so please!) in the morning for breakfast or as a healthier snack cookie.

Brutti Ma Buoni (Italian Hazelnut Cookies)

adapted from Eating Well


1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 large egg whites

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a food processor, pulse nuts, sugar and cinnamon together until finely ground and well incorporated.

3. In an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt on high speed until a stiff peak forms (this will take a few minutes, just be patient). Pour nut mixture into egg mixture and fold together gently with a rubber spatula. Add vanilla and mix well.

4. Spoon the batter onto the prepared baking sheets by the tablespoon, leaving about two inches between each cookie.

5. Bake the cookies for about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Removed from oven and let cool on baking sheets for three minutes. Transfer cookies onto wire rack to cool completely. Yields about 16 cookies.