Brutti ma Buoni (Hazelnut Meringues)

Brutti ma Buoni (Hazelnut Meringues)
Kristina Gill

Brutti ma buoni, “ugly but delicious,” is a phrase perfectly suited to much of Rome’s food. The ingredients may be gorgeous, but the finished product is often aesthetically challenged. In this case, brutti ma buoni specifically refers to meringues loaded with chopped toasted hazelnuts. They are sold by weight at traditional bakeries like Antico Forno Roscioli and Forno Campo de’ Fiori. Trust us—the beauty of these is in the taste.



  • 10 ounces raw hazelnuts, skin on
  • 5 ounces egg whites (from about 5 large eggs)
  • Large pinch of sea salt
  • 2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the skins begin to crack and loosen. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until they can be handled, about 10 minutes, then rub them with a clean tea towel to mostly remove the skins.
  2. Reduce the oven temperature to 300ÂşF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts until the pieces are small, but not quite fine.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the wire whisk, whip the egg whites and salt on medium speed until foamy. With the mixer running, gradually add the sugar in a steady stream, continuing to whisk until the mixture appears glossy and starts to thicken. Fold in the hazelnuts and vanilla. Transfer the mixture to a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan.
  5. Cook over low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to dry out and clump somewhat, comes away from the sides of the pan, and begins to turn beige, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Working quickly, use two spoons to place mounds of the batter on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them 1½ inches apart.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. The cookie will feel a bit soft when pressed but will harden on the outside when cool. Serve immediately or store in an aluminum cookie tin at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Excerpted with permission from Tasting Rome.

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