Brutti ma Buoni
A typical cookie from Rome - not so much a christmas sweet, but with the abundance of hazelnuts, we feel it deserves it place among our favorites for the season to come. As the name suggests - Ugly but good - this little cookie/meringue really shows what roman cooking is all about - few ingredients, great taste - and maybe not so much consideration for the appearence. Bake them at home or try them next time you're in Rome - our favorites are from Roscioli, Antico Forno in Campo di Fiori or from Biscottificio Artigiano Innocenti in Trastevere.
We always make these little beauties when making pasta or ice cream - a great use for left over egg whites.
About 20 cookies:
250 g hazelnuts
250 g sugar
100 g egg whites, from about 3-4 eggs
pinch of fine sea salt
Preheat your oven to 200c degrees.
Place hazelnuts on an oven tray and roast them in the hot oven for about 10 minutes. Give them a toss after 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and place them in a kitchen towel. Rub the hazelnuts against each other to remove some of the skins. Leave to cool. Place hazelnuts in a food processor and process until fairly fine - you still want some chunks. Add ground hazelnuts to a bowl together with the sugar and mix.
Lower your oven to 150c degrees.
Whisk egg whites together with salt until soft peaks. Add hazelnuts to the egg whites and mix with a spoon. Pour mixture into a thick bottom pan and place over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes stirring with a spatula. The mixture is ready when it starts to go stringy and doesn't really feel sticky.
Use 2 table spoons to place dollops of the mixture on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until lightly golden. They should rise a little and they shouldn't be really firm, as they firm up during cooling. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Store in an airtight container.