Desserts/ Italian/ Winter Special

Brutti ma Buoni / Ugly but Good Hazelnut Cookies

Flourless Butterless Crispy Chewy Nutty Goodness

After a recent winter rain, I discovered an intricately crafted spider web filling the entire frame outside my kitchen window. The water droplets clinging to it sparkled and danced with the sunlight, drawing my attention to an enormous spider resting there. I looked away for a minute and when I looked back, the web was gone or rather, I could no longer see it. Without the light of the sun, momentarily obscured by the clouds, the natural work of art disappeared from the view.

The way the change in life hiding and revealing things struck me as a perfect metaphor for awareness. When we put full awareness on something it’s as if we are making it come to life. Isn’t it? We spend a lot of energy at this time of year buying and making gifts, finding the perfect holiday trees and dresses for holiday parties. The original motivation for giving gifts and celebrating can get obscured by stress and fatigue as our awareness shifts from the feeling of connection and contentment to the harried finishing of all our to-dos.

The solution to this typical holiday syndrome is seemed so simple: Keep it light! Keep your awareness shining on the things you want to bring it to life. Let’s take this beautiful idea a step further and apply it to this year’s holiday baking too. By “light” I mean, something that does not require a lot of efforts while making and digesting, something that is not loaded with fats and processed carbs, something that’s delightful and will make us all happy while giving and receiving! These tiny hazelnut cookies not only sound festive but also fit the theme!

Hazelnut cookies

Brutti ma Buoni, are Italian cookies, similar to meringue cookies but these contain nuts too. Traditionally made with almonds or hazelnuts, they have a beautiful nutty texture with crispy from outside and chewy from inside. Only 4 ingredients; yet no all-purpose flour or butter, make these cookies really light and very attractive for health-conscious foodies.

flourless hazelnut cookies

Brutti ma Buoni roughly translates to ‘ugly but good‘. These are popular in northern and central Italy; more specifically in Gavirate, a small town in the province of Varese, north of Milan. Supposedly, the recipe was created in 1878 by Costantino Veniani, an age-old pastry chef, and owner of the pastry shop Pasticceria Veniani. Over the course of a few years, these cookies became very popular, attracting famous people from across northern Italy into the shop. Veniani’s customers included names like Maestro Giuseppe Verdi and Queen Elena, who apparently loved brutti ma buoni so much that she would visit the little shop in person with her bodyguards and return home with the cookies for her court.


You need only four ingredients: hazelnuts, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Since there is no flour, these are completely gluten-free. The natural oil from hazelnuts provides the fat and well-beaten eggs bind sugar and ground nuts together.

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