Italian NUT flourless cookie_Brutti ma Buoni {2 recipes}

Italian NUT flourless cookies
' Brutti ma Buoni ' flat crisp cookies
loose translation: Ugly looking (not really) but yummy.

Lately, I was having a lively exchange on baking ideas with a friend. 
I brought up these easy to make light and flavourful crispy cookies. 

We were talking about what to quickly make with leftover egg whites. 
Of, course, Meringues mostly came to mind.

However, there certainly are way more recipes waiting to be discovered. 
One that came to mind was an easy nutty crisp cookie which had few ingredients.
I promised her I’d dig up my recipe and share it with her.
This past holiday season, I had made quite a bit of custard creams.
Therefore, ending up with a few extra egg whites... 
I figured why not make these gluten-free treats. 

Initially, I seeked out a few versions...to later come up with one(s) of my own. 

Originally, they were based on slightly roasted hazelnuts.
This time, however, only almonds were in my cooler...
so I had given them a chance instead. 
I’m pleased to report that they turned out with great success. 

Although, there are many variants of this meringue-like cookie...
I find this one to be the easiest to make and a very tasty addition to the cookie jar.

NUTTY (flourless) cookie 
ALMOND cookie crisps 
aka ...' Brutti ma Buoni '
Note: I came back to update this recipe to include some variety.  Enjoy.
another update:  I've experimented with a raw grounded nut version as well.  
I really enjoyed them also.  Try them both and you be the judge ;o)
Makes about 32 cookies

Get the PRINT version HERE.

(American /Metric measures)

. 2 cups (260g) roasted* Almonds, grounded 
. 1 cup (220g) granulated sugar 
. 4 large egg whites (room temp.) 
. 1/2 tsp. (2.5ml) sea salt 
. 1 tsp. (5ml) vanilla extract 

Optional substitutes and additions:
. replace almonds with: Hazelnuts, Pecans or Walnuts
. add 1 tsp. (5ml) of either: almond, lemon or orange extracts
. add 1 tbsp. (15ml) of either: lemon or orange, finely zested 
. add generous handful (unsweetened) Coconut, shredded
. add cinnamon and/or ginger spices

* Roasting nuts:  
Pre-heat oven at 350F/180C/Gas4.   Position rack at the 2nd level from the bottom.   Toast the whole Almonds (with skins) on a baking sheet for 9-11 minutes or until the fragrance graces the air.  Let the nuts cool completely before grinding. 
Note: Hazelnuts (rubbed of their skins after roasting), Pecans and Walnuts usually need less roasting time.   Anywhere, between 5-10 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 325F/170C/Gas3 
Position rack in the center of the oven. 
Prepare two (parchment lined) large baking sheets to receive 16 cookies per tray

1. In food Processor, pulse and crush together the cooled roasted nuts and half the sugar until finely ground.   Do not pulverize.
2. Place this nut mix into a large bowl with the remaining sugar, salt, and vanilla.  The optional extract and or zests can also be added at this point.
...Egg whites:
3. In another medium size bowl...beat the whites with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until peaks form.  Do not over beat the whites to the 'dryness' stage.
4. Using a spatula, gently fold the beaten whites into the nut mixture. Do not stir.
5. With the aid of a teaspoon, drop the batter 16 times by leaving each cookie about 1 inch (25mm) apart.
...Bake:  Depending on the darkness of the baking pan, the cookies should bake for no more than 18-22 minutes or at the limit, until golden brown.   Note: In the meantime, while waiting for the first batch to bake...it's best to keep the remaining mix in the refrigerator. Afterwards, when it's 5 minutes before cookies are ready to come out of the oven, the remaining mix should be removed from the cold.
. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before gently transferring them to a wire rack.   Afterwards, repeat the process all over again for the 2nd cookie sheet.
...Storage:  Place cookies layered between sheets of parchment paper in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Better yet, these can be placed in the freezer to maintain their freshness.  They actually never freeze.  Place them within the parchment papers used for the baking sheets and place the package in a freezer sealed bag or plastic container.  These cookies will easily keep for up to 3 months without losing its flavour quality.  Enjoy.
By the way...When you take them out of the oven...they are quickly ready to serve.  While you say "Brutti ma Buoni” a few times...you'll be crunching away.

Here's a little background on the...
Way back around the period of 1878...in the town of Gavirate 
(within the province of Varese, Piedmonte region in Northern Italy)... 
a pastry shop owner and chef by the name of 
Costantino Veniani created this delicious nut cookie.

This very simple delicate cookie gave his 
' Pasticceria Veniani ' notoriety with the Italian elite. 
Thankfully, the recipe has been tried by many ‘non-elite’ palates  since then.

Here's another recipe rendering thicker, mounded cookies:
'Brutti ma Buoni' mound NUT cookies

Made with lightly roasted nuts.  
Renders a crispy, crunchy exterior with a chewy, meringue interior.

makes 15 (mounded) cookies

Printer version

(American /Metric measures) 

. 4 large (180ml) egg whites (room temp.) 
. 3/4 cup (165g) granulated sugar 
. 1 tsp. (5ml) pure almond extract
. 1 tsp. (5ml) pure vanilla extract
. 1 cup /(5oz.)  (150g) lightly roasted hazelnuts, skinned and coarsly chopped
. 1 cup /(5oz.) (150g) lightly roasted almonds, skinned and coarsly chopped
optional add-ins:
. fine zest of Orange
- replace a certain part of the nuts with unsweetened, shredded coconut
- for chocolate version: add 3 Tbsps. (45ml) cocoa powder as well as add extra granulated sugar...
about 1/4cup (55g)

. Pre-heat the oven to 300F/150C/Gas2   
. Line one large baking sheet with parchment paper.
. Position the rack in the center of the oven.
1. With an electric beater, whip the egg whites for about 2 minutes before adding the sugar gradually.   Keep whipping until very well combined to a thickened and smooth ribbon consistency.  Takes about 4 minutes.
2. Add and fold in the chopped nuts as well as both almond and vanilla extracts to the egg white mix.  Transfer this whole mix into a small-medium saucepan.  
3. COOK the meringue:  Stir the mix constantly while cooking the whole preparation on medium heat. The batter will thicken to hold its shape and will become slightly dried out.  This takes about 10 minutes from the initial moment that the heat is turned on.  
4. Remove the pot from the heat and get ready to spoon 2 inch (5cm) batter droppings (or use a #30-medium ice-cream scoop) and space them 1 inch (2.5cm) apart onto the baking pan.  Make about 15 mounds per baking pan.
. Bake them for 35 minutes.  Remove them from the oven and let them rest to cool on the pan for about 1 hour before serving them.   
Storage: These cookies should be left uncovered.  However, they'll maintain their originally intended texture for 2 days only.  If not planning to have them right away, best to freeze them into a parchment paper as well as into a freezer bag.  Afterwards, heat them at low in order to get their outer crispness back.

Voila...enjoy these by themselves... 
with ice-cream or with your favourite warm beverage ;o)

Have yourselves a great 'Nutty' day,

Comments ... ??? ... or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at: foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com

Go HERE for more SWEET creations.

Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)
. Use DRY cup measurements for...you guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new recipe...run to the store...you'll thank me later. 

Other cookies that may interest you:
- CHOCOLATE banana PEANUT butter OATS cookie