Baked Sunday Mornings: Brutti Ma Buoni (Ugly but Good) Cookies

This week's Baked Sunday Mornings recipe is presented in honor of La Befana -- a mythical old woman who delivers gifts to children in Italy on on Epiphany Eve. Renato Poliafito offers his version of Brutti Ma Buoni cookies -- "ugly but good" meringues with chocolate and pistachios.

The recipe is straightforward. You whisk egg whites with sugar in a double boiler until the sugar dissolves. Then you transfer the whites to a mixer and whisk until stiff peaks form. You add vanilla, incorporate the sifted dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, and cinnamon), and fold in coarsely chopped toasted pistachios and miniature chocolate chips.

I used a #50 scoop to portion out the cookies and I got 52 from a batch of dough. The recipe instructs you to bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes, "until the cookies are hard and crackly on the surface." My cookies never developed cracks on the surface and it took a half hour in the oven before the cookies were hard when I pressed down on them. I didn't think that the cookies were particularly ugly, but they definitely weren't attractive, either. They had a muddy color and irregular blobby shape.
I liked the texture of these cookies -- crisp outside and chewy inside. However, I wasn't a big fan of the flavor. I think it might be because of my personal bias against cinnamon combined with chocolate. But I also found the flavor odd and a little muddled. I love the combination of pistachio and chocolate, but I thought that these meringues were not really chocolate-y, not really pistachio-y, and sort of a half-hearted mishmash of the two.

These cookies weren't bad -- my tasters enjoyed them. But they are my least favorite of all the meringues I've ever made; the gentlemen bakers offer a terrific meringue recipe in Baked Explorations, and I also love Nick Malgieri's Ginger Meringue Kisses and this Peppermint Meringue recipe from And I have previously made a Brutti Ma Buoni recipe from Food and Wine that I also prefer to this one. 

Recipe: "Brutti Ma Buoni" from Baked Occasions by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.

Previous Posts:


Unknown said…
I agree with you on the cinnamon....although I loved these cookies, I think I would like them even better if I would have left the cinnamon out...I actually thought about it, but didn't do it.
Louise said…
I forgot all about that Food & Wine recipe. I recently saw another variation called "Not Ugly But Good" which I've added to my "To Bake" list. So many cakes and cookies, so little time.
Sorry you didn't like these so much-- they still look great! :)
Sally said…
Made SK's version of these last night - I loved them. Hazelnuts instead of pistachios, and no cinnamon. Question - where do you get your cookie scoops? Thanks!
When I saw the Smitten Kitchen version of this recipe, I thought it sounded more appealing than the original, and I am tempted to give it a try! I have collected my many kitchen scoops in various stores over the years, including Sur La Table, Fante's in Philadelphia, and Bridge Kitchenware... I even picked one up at John Lewis in London. I always keep an eye out for them!