Cookies, Dessert

Brutti Ma Buoni “Ugly But Good” Cookies [G.F.]

Nicoletta March 10, 2017

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Brutti Ma Buoni “Ugly But Good” Cookies are classic Italian cookies similar to macaroons and mostly made of hazelnuts, almonds, egg whites, and icing sugar. Not the prettiest in look, but utterly delicious to eat.

Brutti ma buoni

I’ve done these Brutti ma Buoni Cookies twice in a couple of weeks. That is how much we like them! And every time, they last until the second day, and then I hear requests of baking some more.



I love baking cookies and fill a jar that I keep on the island so that my family knows that the baker was in action that day. It is a metal container with a metal lid, and the noise it makes while being opened and closed is unmistakable. It is music to my ear, meaning that the cookies are really appreciated. I do not remember buying store bought cookies in a very long time, we like our sweets in our family, so at least I try to keep it homemade and “healthier” as much as I can.

Lately, I’ve made desserts that required a good amount of egg yolks, leaving me with the dilemma of what to do with the leftover egg whites. I’ve made meringues, and I’ve made, twice, these simple, yet outstanding, Brutti ma Buoni “Ugly but Good” Cookies. They are classic Italian cookies, that of course, differ in look and ingredients according to the Region where they are produced. They can be made with only almonds or only hazelnuts, sometimes with a combination of both, other times with a combination of both plus the addition of walnuts. The nuts can be roughly chopped, or finely ground. Some add cocoa, some add chocolate, some purists add nothing, just the nuts. This recipe is a mix of my mother’s recipe, and Dorie Greenspan’s recipe, that featured my favorite ingredient: chocolate. Chocolate is my weakness, what can I say? I like including it in my sweets, even in the ones I eat for breakfast. Because if there is something I absolutely love at breakfast, is having something chocolaty: a pain au chocolat, a chocolate croissant, a scone with orange and chocolate chunks, a chocolate muffin, or a simple slice of toast with a smooth and creamy chocolate hazelnut spread.

So, in my version of Brutti ma Buoni cookies, to the coarsely ground hazelnuts, slivered almonds, cinnamon, vanilla, egg whites and icing sugar, I added a dusting of cocoa powder and a generous amount of Callebaut’s bittersweet chocolate chunks. The result is incredibly soft and chewy cookies, with a lovely dark chocolate taste, and a pronounced nutty flavor.

Brutti ma buoni

They are so easy and fast to make, you will find yourself coming back to this recipe as often as I do. You can grind the nuts finely and see if you are among the ones that like the Brutti Ma Buoni with a texture more similar to a nutty meringue. I like a bit of crunchy texture in mine, with the coarsely ground hazelnuts, the slivered almonds, and the chocolate chunks. They are soft and chewy, and so delectable. They’re also naturally gluten-free, and so light that having just one is not an option. They are perfect with tea or coffee, so they go well as an afternoon snack, at the end of a meal, or, like we do, at breakfast.

Brutti ma buoni

These Brutti Ma Buoni Cookies always remind me of home, as they are made by my mother, aunts, cousins, each with their own variation, and shared on different occasions. There is always a tray of them at our Easter breakfast table, in Italy, among other sweets and savory delicacies: cheese bread, salami, boiled eggs, colomba (dove shaped sweet bread), cookies, cakes and of course, the chocolate eggs. A feast that will continue at Easter lunch, and not for the faint of heart, lol.

Brutti ma Buoni

You bite into these and the texture of a meringue is there, melting in your mouth, marrying nicely to the texture of the bittersweet organic chocolate and the crunch from the nuts. The flavors of the meringue and its sugary caramelization, pairing nicely to the deep rich slight acidic nature of the dark chocolate subduing the sweetness of the sugar and delivering the nutty flavor of the slivered almonds and hazelnuts. These are wonderful and that cookie jar lid resounds a fair bit in our house, especially when a cookie monster is awakened in the wee hours of the morning due to the cats, and is in need of a quick sugar fix.

If meringues are your thing then these are a rustic step up and deliver such a joyous, mouth-watering experience, that I know will be enjoyed immensely. So if you have a few cookie monsters of your own, try these Brutti ma Buoni “Ugly but Good” Cookies. They’re actually not that ugly at all.

Song of the day: Daya – Sit Still, Look Pretty.

Brutti ma Buoni

Brutti Ma Buoni “Ugly But Good” Cookies [G.F.]

  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: about 18 medium sized cookies 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian


Brutti Ma Buoni “Ugly But Good” Cookies are classic Italian cookies similar to macaroons and mostly made of hazelnuts, almonds, egg whites, and icing sugar. Not the prettiest in look, but utterly delicious to eat.


  • 120 g (1 cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 66 g (2/3 cups) hazelnuts, coarsely ground
  • 120 g (1 cup) slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 57 g (2 ounces) semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
  2. Pass the icing sugar, cocoa, cinnamon and salt through a strainer and onto a bowl.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a hand held mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy.
  4. Add the vanilla, the strained ingredients, the ground hazelnuts and the chopped almonds. Mix with a spatula, until evenly moistened.
  5. Stir in the chopped chocolate.
  6. Using a tablespoon, scoop the dough onto the lined baking sheets, leaving some room between them.
  7. Bake for 20-22 minutes, rotating the sheet at half time.
  8. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and allow the cookies to cool completely before peeling the paper or silicon mat away from the bottom.


Store them in a covered container at room temperature for 2-3 days (if they last that long). They tend to harden a bit after 3-4 days.

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Chocolate Brutti ma Buoni

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  • Avatar
    Reply thefinercookie March 10, 2017 at 10:41 am

    I have a version of this recipe on my website as well. I am in love with them, just like you. And for breakfast? It’s what I like.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 11, 2017 at 10:16 am

      So glad I’m not the only one who likes cookies for breakfast 😉 ! I have to check your version of these cookies. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Avatar
    Reply Food Meanderings March 10, 2017 at 11:49 am

    haha I love it – Ugly but good! There are so many times I have wanted to just say that about recipes I have posted. And I had to look it up – that really is the translation (I wasn’t sure if you were joking) – perfect! I need to make these 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 11, 2017 at 10:18 am

      Yeah, that is the actual translation 😉 . We all have food that tastes better than how it looks, ah ah. Hope you try them and let us know! Thanks!

  • Avatar
    Reply Diane Galambos March 10, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Hi! I will soon write about my obsession with Italian cookies. For sure these will be tried and added to my collection!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 11, 2017 at 10:20 am

      Can’t wait to to hear about your “obsession” with Italian cookies (I have one, too, by the way 😉 )!. And if you try them, can’t wait to hear how you like them! Thanks so much for your comment.

  • Avatar
    Reply Natalie Browne March 10, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    I’m always up for anything chocolate, so ugly or not, these cookies sound wonderful to me 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 11, 2017 at 10:21 am

      As I wrote in the post, I have a weakness for chocolate, and it’s nice to see that I’m not alone 🙂 . Thank you Natalie!

  • Avatar
    Reply maria March 11, 2017 at 6:30 am

    This is without a doubt one of my favorite cookies. As with most Italian recipes, there are as many versions as there are regions in Italy. My version includes “drying” the mixture on the stove before placing in the oven; I also don’t include any chocolate… although I like this idea ♥ Great recipe! Thanks for sharing. Have a great week-end you guys!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 11, 2017 at 10:25 am

      One of my favorite for sure, Maria! And you’re so right, every Region has its version. But even in my family, my aunt has a version (only hazelnuts, no chocolate), my mother another (hazelnut and almonds, no chocolate), my cousin (hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts and some lemon zest, no chocolate). But in my version I had to add chocolate, they’re sooo good! 😉 . Thank you so much for your comment.

  • Avatar
    Reply Marisa's Italian Kitchen March 11, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    I have been wanting to try these like forever now and I can only imagine how incredible they taste by your lovely description! They are by far the prettiest brutti ma buoni that I have ever seen!😉

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 13, 2017 at 9:47 am

      Thank you, I fond them cute as well, but you know, that is the name they have 😉 . Hope you make them and let me know. We love brutti ma buoni!

  • Avatar
    Reply chef mimi March 13, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    They’re really not that ugly!!! Great flavor combinations!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 13, 2017 at 5:47 pm

      Thank you! I agree, they’re kind of cute, and so delicious 😉 .

  • Avatar
    Reply adina March 15, 2017 at 1:49 am

    Now that’s a funny name!! 🙂 🙂 No matter how they look, I would still love to eat a few.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 15, 2017 at 10:41 am

      Thank you Adina! You can’t just stop at one, I assure you 😉

  • Avatar
    Reply Ina April 2, 2019 at 7:13 am

    When I make these, they turn to perfectly round smooth very flat gray circles. They are not brown like these, and they do not have any height, and you can’t see the nuts in it. Everything is covered in sticky sugar-eggwhite gray goo, when i put them on the tray. What have i done wrong?

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta April 2, 2019 at 7:36 am

      Oh no, I’m sorry to hear that. I’m trying to figure out what could have gone wrong. I make them often and they turn out all the time. Maybe my instructions were not clear enough. The final texture is that of a chewy meringue, with nuts and chocolate. I am wondering if you are beating the egg whites alone and long enough to develop some air inside (which is the way to do). I am also thinking that maybe instead of folding the rest of ingredients in the beaten egg whites you mix everything in the stand mixer, thus “killing” the air pockets? Or maybe your hazelnuts and almonds are chopped too fine? What I cannot figure out, though, is the grey color, when almost all ingredients are brown: nuts, cocoa, chocolate, cinnamon. Let me know if some parts of my instructions were not clear and I’ll try to guide you through. Hope you give them a try again, they are too good to pass on.

      • Avatar
        Reply Ina April 2, 2019 at 2:48 pm

        It is possible that I didn’t beat the eggwhites long enough. But there just seemed to be too much of the meringue and it all just flattened out, when it got on the tray. I tried to fold everything in very gently afterwards with a spatula, but the texture just quickly turned too soft and super gooey and sticky. Maybe it turned gray because i didnt put enough cocoa in?
        But I probably chopped the nuts too fine.
        So next time I’ll try adding a bit more cocoa, chop my nuts not so fine and beat the eggwhites for longer. Thank you!

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