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Rome, Sweet Rome: A Recipe for Brutti Ma Buoni Cookies

by Maria Pasquale
Photo by Mark Roper / courtesy of Smith Street Books.

The Eternal City: Recipes and Stories from Rome is journalist Maria Pasquale's love letter to her adopted city. The Australian expat's beautiful book brims with photos, stories, and recipes in chapters dedicated to "a distinct concept that is part of daily life for most Romans" — like the trattoria, the market, the pizzeria, and at home, among others. Here is an easy for the classically Roman cookie brutti ma buoni. We've also published her essay on the future of Roman cuisine, "The New Romans: New Dining Concepts and Trends." Happy baking!

Brutti Ma Buoni

"Ugly but good" cookies

I love the name for these biscotti because it’s so literal and real: "ugly but good." And that’s because they are indeed delicious and addictive, but nothing much to look at — and yet are displayed at cake shops and bakeries across Rome and Lazio. An Italian meringue of sorts, these are easy to make and are crispy on the outside, with a soft and chewy center. Brutti ma buoni are the truly perfect reminder not to judge a book by its cover.

Makes 2530

100 g (31/2oz) shelled hazelnuts

60 g (2 oz) blanched almonds

2 egg whites

lemon juice

140 g (5 oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and toast them for 2–3 minutes. Leave to cool, then roughly chop or blend them, together with the almonds.

2. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites with a few drops of lemon juice. When the egg whites begin to thicken, gradually add the icing sugar and continue to whisk until they form a stiff foam that stands up in peaks.

3. Gently fold in the hazelnuts and almonds with a spoon, being careful not to knock the air out of the egg whites.

4. When the nuts are evenly distributed, place the mixture in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and continue to stir gently with a wooden spoon. When the mixture starts to come away easily from the base and side of the pan or thicken, remove from the heat.

5. Using two tablespoons, shape the mixture into balls and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, leaving a little space in between to allow for spreading.

6. Bake at 160°C (320°F) for 20 minutes, then leave to cool. The biscotti are best enjoyed straight away, but will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container.

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Reprinted with permission from The Eternal City: Recipes and Stories from Rome, © 2023 Maria Pasquale. Published by Smith Street Books.

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