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Brutti Ma Buoni

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The term Brutti ma Buoni means Ugly but Good, and is quite apt, because these traditional Tuscan cookies don't look like much, but vanish off the plate when you set them out. They take a bit of effort to make, but are well worth it.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups (250 g) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 pound (100 g) blanched peeled, toasted almonds
  • 1/4 pound (100 g) toasted shelled hazelnuts
  • 6 egg whites
  • A healthy pinch of a mixture of powdered cloves, cinnamon, and coriander
  • A pinch of vanillin or a few drops vanilla extract

Preparation:

Grind the nuts to a powder, ideally using a mortar and pestle (the toasting of the nuts makes this operation much more successful). If you don't have a mortar and pestle, either chop the nuts very finely by hand, or whir them to a powder in your blender, using short bursts lest the spinning blades extract the oil from the nutmeats.

Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and carefully fold in the nuts, sugar, spices, and vanilla.

Turn the batter into a sauce pot and heat it, stirring gently, over a low flame until it thickens and just becomes golden (or pale tan) in color; this will take about a half hour.

While doing this, preheat your oven to 320 F (160 C) and butter a cookie sheet.

Take the thickened batter, and drop it, a scant tablespoon (about half a walnuts' worth) at a time, onto the cookie sheet, leaving some space between drops. Bake the brutti ma buoni for about 40 minutes. Let them cool thoroughly and enjoy.

A note: Some cooks add a little regular all purpose flour to the nut mixture, which makes for a firmer batter that requires less careful folding. But from a flavor/texture standpoint, the addition is not at all necessary.

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