Italian Cookies Recipe


The term brutti ma buoni means ‘ugly but good,’ and is quite apt, because these traditional drop cookies don’t look too attractive, but vanish off the serving plate in minutes.

They take a little effort to make, but are well worth it.


Makes about 25 cookies


  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup blanched peeled, and toasted almonds
  • 1/2 cup  toasted hazelnuts, shelled
  • 6 egg whites
  • A healthy pinch of powdered cloves and powdered cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of vanillin or a few drops vanilla extract


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 pulse them to a powder in your blender.

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

Turn the batter into a saucepan and heat it, stirring gently, over a low flame until it thickens and just becomes golden in color; this will take about a half hour.

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

Take the thickened batter, and drop it, less than a tablespoon (about half a walnuts’ worth) at a time, onto the cookie sheet, leaving some space between drops.

Bake the Ugly but Good for about 40 minutes.

Let them cool thoroughly and enjoy with a glass of robust red wine and a good book.

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