La Tavola della mia Famiglia:  Brutti ma Buoni

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2010

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One of the things I love about native Italians is that they say what they mean, and they don’t mince words.  Take these cookies, for instance.  They’re called Brutti ma Buoni, which means “ugly, but good”.  Don’t you love it?  These unassuming, delicate little puffs of meringue studded with nuts and in this case,  chocolate, are kind of ugly.  But at the same time, they are crunchy, chewy and downright delicious.

These cookies were on the menu at my last cooking class and as my students were “oohing” and “aahing” over them, it hit me that I had never shared them with all of you before.  And, what a crying shame it is, because not only were they one of my childhood favorites, but they are also super easy to make.

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The first thing you need to do is whip up some egg whites and sugar.  Then, gently mix in a little flour, vanilla and a splash of almond or hazelnut liqueur, and fold in the nuts and chocolate.

gritty-meringue-collage

After you bake them, you’re rewarded with delightful little cookies that shatter upon contact with your teeth, and then just melt away in your mouth.

Traditional Brutti ma Buoni are made primarily with almonds, although a variety of different kinds of nuts are often used.  The more nuts you add, the more bumpy and  brutti your cookies will be.  In this version, I chose to use finely chopped almonds and dark chocolate bars with chopped almonds in them.  Feel free to experiment!  You could even add orange or lemon zest to your meringue for a citrus burst.

Brutti ma Buoni were always a staple on the cookie trays that my grandmother and aunts would distribute at holiday time.  A pleasant contrast from some of the other leaden heavier offerings, I remember sneaking around, plucking them off of the trays when no one was looking.

If you’ve never tried these little gems before, you’re in for a treat!  But, don’t take my word for it.  Go make some for yourself.  Just don’t blame me if you eat the whole batch before anyone else gets home!

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Buon Appetito!

22 responses to La Tavola della mia Famiglia:  Brutti ma Buoni

  1. On October 24, 2010 at 5:41pm, Rosa said...

    I love that name! Youir Brutti Ma Buoni are very tempting.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. On October 24, 2010 at 6:05pm, {Clockwork Lemon} said...

    Yum thank you so much for the recipe! I’ve had these from time to time at bake sales and other people’s houses but I literally had no idea what they were called or made from.

  3. On October 24, 2010 at 6:31pm, Kalynskitchen said...

    I haven’t heard of this type of cookie before, but oh my goodness, I am drooling!

    • On October 24, 2010 at 10:37pm, Susan said...

      No butter or egg yolks. I wonder if this would be ok on the SB Diet. Maybe without the chocolate.

  4. On October 24, 2010 at 7:05pm, Joanne said...

    Just from picturing all of these ingredients together, I know exactly which cookie you are talking about! I’m pretty sure I never knew the name of it but I loved it’s almond flavor. delicious.

  5. On October 25, 2010 at 4:44am, Coleen said...

    Dyslexia strikes again, I read your title and asked myself…Travolta is in her family? haha. These look wonderful.

  6. On October 25, 2010 at 7:30am, joanne at frutto della passione said...

    I have seen much uglier versions out there! These look heavenly!

  7. On October 25, 2010 at 8:04am, nina said...

    Please tell me why people post sweet treats like this on Mondays. Don’t they know we are all on diet just for today, he-he!!!
    Looks divine Susan!!

  8. On October 25, 2010 at 9:14am, Paula said...

    oh, these cookies looks so yummy!

    have a nice time!
    Paula

  9. On October 25, 2010 at 10:33am, bellini said...

    I wouldn’t say these are the ugly duckling of cookies but they would sure be a treat.

  10. On October 25, 2010 at 1:45pm, elra said...

    Such a beautiful name for a cookie :)

  11. On October 25, 2010 at 4:50pm, Shirley @ gfe said...

    Oh, Susan, these could so easily be made gluten free! I can’t wait to do just that. :-) Love the name, too! I’m a “tell it like you see it” girl, myself. ;-)

    Belated thanks on the mention in your BHF post. You did a lovely write-up as usual. For some reason, I’m balking at writing either an IFBC or BHF post. Have drafted them, but have not gotten any further …

    Hugs,
    Shirley

  12. On October 25, 2010 at 7:50pm, Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen said...

    I personally think they look absolutely beautiful and airy!

  13. On October 26, 2010 at 10:17am, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    I think these cookies need a self-esteem boost! They’re not ugly at all!

  14. On October 27, 2010 at 2:33pm, Leslie said...

    These look so good! I’ve had them before and they are delicious.

  15. On October 27, 2010 at 2:42pm, Jennifer @ Maple n Cornbread said...

    Not ugly and they sound good! Ive not had cookies like this before!

  16. On October 29, 2010 at 1:00pm, Cindy said...

    I cannot wait to try these. My Granny makes something called “Ritz Cracker Pie” every year for Thanksgiving. It sounds really similar, but made with pecans. I love the light airy top crust that literally melts in your mouth.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  17. On October 29, 2010 at 2:06pm, Deborah said...

    I made some similar cookies awhile back and loved them! Now I want some of yours!

  18. On November 02, 2010 at 1:37pm, The Food Hunter said...

    I’ve been curious about these cookies for awhile now. I’ve got to just buck up and make them. They sound great.

  19. On December 22, 2010 at 4:44am, KittZola said...

    i LOVE the idea of these cookies! i am currently waiting for a batch to be done from the oven! i have already done two ‘testers’, one on baking paper and another in a shallow muffin tray. The latter succeeded by a little but both had that ‘failed pavlova’ quality to them.
    im such a sucker for egg-white based recipes and only ever get it half-right every time =S
    Thank you for motivating me tho!

  20. On December 17, 2011 at 11:46am, Katie S. said...

    My husband reads to a local kindergarten class, and we always try to send in a snack that follows the theme of the book; last month he read “The Ugly Duckling” and we were racking our brains trying to figure out what to send in so I Googled “Ugly but tasty cookies”, and your site came up.

    We made the cookies (some even made it in to the class) and loved them so much that we are including them on our Christmas plate of cookies for our neighbors. Thank you for the tasty, tasty treat!

  21. On March 07, 2014 at 7:44pm, Carissa said...

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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