Brutti ma Buoni al Cacao
Tips: : Brutti ma buoni translates
to ugly but good. While I dont find these ugly
at all, they havent the regular, smooth surface of many other
cookies. These are meringues (in this case, chocolate meringues)
with chunks of bittersweet chocolate and toasted hazelnuts in them;
there are as many recipes for these as there are people who bake
them. Your chocolate chunks, incidentally, should be no larger than
about 1/4 inch on a side. You'll need baking parchment to make these
cookies; it's often available in supermarkets at this time of year.
To ensure good volume of your egg whites when theyre
beaten, make sure theyre at room temperature (or slightly
warmer). Your bowl and beaters must be completely grease-free, too.
The meringue for these cookies is very stiff, but that makes it
easier to portion out. These would be great for any informal gathering,
and as you might expect theyre perfect with a cup of coffee.
Brutti ma Buoni will keep at room temperature for a few days if
stored airtight. They can be frozen for longer storage, but they
are fragile (see directions below) and I think their flavor begins
to diminish if theyre frozen for more than a few weeks.
- 3/4 cup skinned hazelnuts
- 2/3 cup (about 4 ounces) bittersweet OR semisweet chocolate
- 4 egg whites, from eggs graded large, at room temperature
- 1 tsp. cream of tartar
- Large pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2-1/4 cups unsifted confectioners sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place
hazelnuts in single layer in shallow, foil-lined baking pan. Toast
hazelnuts about 9 to 12 minutes, stirring often, until very fragrant
and a light golden brown. Remove from oven. Cool completely before
chopping coarsely (this can be done up to 24 hours in advance).
In small bowl, combine cooled, chopped hazelnuts and chocolate chunks;
If necessary, heat oven again to 350 degrees F. Line large baking
sheets with parchment paper cut to fit. In large bowl of electric
mixer fitted with whisk beater, beat egg whites and cream of tartar
at medium speed until foamy. Add salt. Gradually increase speed
to high and beat until white and greatly increased in volume. Gradually
add granulated sugar, reducing mixer speed as you add it, then increasing
mixer speed again until the sugar is thoroughly blended in before
the next addition.
Repeat procedure with confectioners sugar, reducing speed
as each addition is put into the meringue, then gradually increasing
speed again to blend it in. About halfway through adding confectioners
sugar, stop the mixer; scrape down bowl and beater with a large
spatula before beginning to add remaining sugar. Meringue will be
very stiff when all sugar has been added, and it should hold a stiff
peak. Add vanilla and beat in thoroughly. Remove bowl from mixer,
scraping as much meringue from beater into bowl as possible.
SIFT IN the Dutch process cocoa powder, then carefully fold it
in with a large spatula. The meringue will be so stiff that it will
take you a couple of minutes to thoroughly blend in the cocoa powderOK.
Once the cocoa powder is thoroughly blended in, and the chocolate
chunks and cooled, chopped hazelnuts; fold in just until evenly
Drop the meringue by heaping teaspoons onto the parchment-lined
baking sheets. Make sure to leave some room between the meringues,
which will spread as they bake; I use 17 by 12 inch baking sheets
here, and place 15 meringues onto each. Bake one sheet at a time
in the preheated oven for 11 to 13 minutes, turning back-to-front
once about halfway through baking time. The meringues will expand
and crack as they bake. The lesser baking time will result in a
chewier center, while more baking time will mean a drier and airier
meringue throughout. While one panful bakes, continue dropping more
meringues onto other prepared cookie sheets; they can stand at room
temperature, uncovered, until there is space in the oven for them.
When meringues are done, remove baking sheet to cooling rack. Allow
meringues to stand for 1 to 2 minutes, then slide parchment paper,
with meringues still on it, to another cooling rack. Allow meringues
to stand till completely cooled, then peel from parchment paper
(they should peel off very easily).
Store meringues airtight at room temperature for up to three or
four days; freeze for longer storage. To freeze, place meringues
in single layer on parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet; freeze
until frozen through. Stack carefully in freezerproof container;
place in freezer where they wont get crushed. Thaw at room
temperature, still in container.
Yields: About 3 dozen meringues
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