"Ugly But Good" Nut Cookies

December 13, 2013

"Ugly But Good" Nut Cookies
*Updated on 12/15/2013. I made a new batch of cookies last night.
I used less sugar and cook the batter on the stove for just 6 minutes. They came out even more awesome than the previous. I took a couple of new shots.
I hope you don't mind...

Do not judge a book by its cover, they say.
I wish I could say that I am one of those people who do not judge a book by its cover but, I am.
I am so one of those who will pick up a book (including cookbooks) solely on the cover.
That doesn’t mean that I won’t read something that sounds good just because it has a bad cover; but if a cover does not capture my eye, it is very unlikely for me to pick up the book.
That’s probably why I still struggle to read on my Kindle. I like to look at the cover, I like to feel the paper in my hands and to flip through real pages rather than clicking. Call me old fashion.
Truth to be told, evaluating things by their appearance is second nature in so many circumstances in life.
"Ugly But Good" Nut Cookies
And appearance influence big decisions...such as which dessert to choose. But then again you can always say “Ahh to heck with it, I’ll have both thanks very much.”
Of course some of the most beautiful desserts are also the most delicious.
We eat with our eyes and that’s why cooks and chefs (and food bloggers) do everything they can to make their food look as enticing as possible.
However, sometimes it is important to look beyond appearances, because ugly looking food can be delicious too, such as these "Ugly But Good" Nut Cookies.
"Ugly But Good" Nut Cookies
These nutty cookies, with a lumpy and irregular shape, aren’t going to win any cookie beauty pageant, but they have “a great personality” and man, do they taste GREAT.
If you wonder why the weird name, it’s the literal translation from the Italian, brutti ma buoni → ugly but good.

"Ugly But Good" Nut Cookies

"Ugly but good" cookies are similar to a meringue cookie except that coarsely chopped nuts are folded in and that the dough is cooked on the stove prior to baking.
They have a wonderfully crisp exterior with an interior that is soft and chewy.
Chunky pieces of hazelnuts give these cookies their character. Are you guys familiar with Ferrero Rocher chocolates? Well, these ugly but good crisp and chewy cookies taste that even better.
So do not judge not by appearance until you try these wonderfully light crunchy drops of heaven!

"Ugly But Good" Nut Cookies
Ugly But Good Nut Cookies                                                                                   Print this recipe!


2 large egg whites (or 3 medium), at room temperature
¾ cup / 5.3 oz / 150 gr raw coconut palm sugar (I used Madhava)
1 cup / 4.4 oz / 125 gr blanched hazelnuts*
½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped out

* if you can’t find blanched hazelnuts, here’s how to peel them


Preheat oven to 250°F (120°C) and place a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a food processor add hazelnuts and pulse until roughly chopped. Set aside.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment (or in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer), whip egg whites with a pinch of salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks forms, about to 2 to 3 minutes.
Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling the sugar. Whip until meringue is glossy and soft peaks forms about 4 to 5 minutes. The coconut sugar will dissolve into the egg whites giving them a fantastic brownish/caramel macchiato color.
With the help of a spatula gently fold in chopped hazelnuts.
Scrape the beaten whites into a wide, heavy saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Stir in the hazelnuts and cook, stirring, until the batter comes away from the sides of the pan and is light golden brown about 6 to 8 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and working quickly drop the batter by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet.
Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove and let cool completely on a rack before serving.

Nutrition facts

One cookie yields 99 calories, 6 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbs and 2 grams of protein.


  1. I don't know why you call them "ugly", they look pretty to me. And I bet they're delicious!

  2. I have to agree with Corinne - these sure are not "ugly" my friend!
    Seeing I have such a sweet tooth - I really love healthier cookies!

    You are right though - even though I try so hard not to, I do find myself taking a taste - depending on visual appeal!

  3. I have to agree with Corinne and Shashi, these cookies are super cute and they look delectable!

  4. Yum! I think ugly food is usually the tastiest! Saying that these cookies don't look ugly to me they look like they should be eaten by me : )

    1. Hahahaha Tam, some ugly food is actually the best (oysters?), not always though...

  5. Ferrero Rochers you say? Ooooooh, I love me those big time! I definitely have to give this recipe a try, although it is a bit on the high side as far as sugar content is concerned. I will definitely have to find a way to work around this... It's hard with meringue, though. It does demand a lot of sugar in order to really happen for ya.

    Bah, I'll think of something. For a Ferrero Rocher, I would do anything.

    Now you just gave me the craziest of ideas. Can Ferrero Rochers be made paleo, you think? Oh god. I wish I were in my kitchen right now. I want to go home. NOW! Darn you, Mike TIY!

    Oh, and one last thing before I go: these cookies, they do not look ugly at all. I say someone needs to find a new name for them. I can simply imagine how they must go "crshhhh" and then "swishhh" and almost disintegrate in your mouth. They need a name that says just that.

    And now, if you'll excuse me, I have some more cursing to do, in private! ;)

    1. Sonia, I'll wait with trepidation until you come up with a Paleo version of Ferrero Rocher. I know you can do it, you just need to take a leap of faith and go for it!

  6. Hey! I just stumbled across your blog and managed to save 15 of your recipes to my must-try-soon list in around 10 minutes! :) Really great blog!

  7. Hi - just curious - why are the egg whites cooked on the stove before baking? Would it be possible to bake directly, like you would a regular meringue?

    1. If you cook the mixture on the stove, the cookies will have a more chewy texture, while if you skip it, they'll have a more meringue texture. Although the step isn't necessary, the former is the more traditional way of making them!

  8. Interesting, you cook the batter before baking it? Why? Just curious.
    Next time try to use the ice cream scoop or if the dough is thick enough roll into balls with hands. Just an idea. They will spread more round and even.
    I hear you, Mike. I always struggle to make healthy cookies pretty. That's why regular dessert blogs are so easier to take off. Food full of processed stuff is so much easier to make pretty. Butter, white flour, not to mention dulce le leche and coloured sprinkles and chocolate chips.

    1. As mentioned in the comment before If you cook the mixture on the stove, the cookies will have a more chewy texture, while if you skip it, they'll have a more meringue texture. Although the step isn't necessary, the former is the more traditional way of making them!

      And thanks for the ice-cream scoop tip, I should try it

  9. Hazelnuts always remind me of Europe. Yum!

    1. I've just found out that Nutella (which is predominantly made with hazelnuts) is actually Italian. What about that?

  10. I love how you've named it, but I do not agree with it. They look adorable, what are you talking about.
    I agree the cover is important, but when it comes to sweets, I just close my eyes and enjoy it...

    1. Cover is definitely not important but unfortunately we all eat with our eyes!