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Recipe: Make Del Posto’s Ugly-But-Good Hazelnut Cookies

Crunchy, chewy Italian cookies

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Amongst the rich tradition of American-Italian dining, New York’s Del Posto is an enduring icon. Eater restaurant critic Bill Addison recently dubbed it “America’s high church of pasta,” where chef Mark Ladner transforms classic dishes “from the inside out.” Part of the stable of Italian eateries founded by household names Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Lidia Bastianich, for more than 10 years it’s been charming diners with showstoppers like the 100 layer lasagne.

Now, with the debut of a new book — out now — ambitious amateur cooks can finally take a stab at some of Del Posto’s most beloved recipes at home. Below, a recipe for Del Posto’s version of Brutti Ma Buoni cookies — a traditional Italian hazelnut meringue-like pastry whose name translates to “ugly but good.” While they may not look traditionally beautiful, these cookies are the perfect balance between crunchy and chewy and would make a sweet addition to a holiday cookie tin.

Brutti Ma Buoni Cookies

Makes about 28 cookies

½ pound (226 grams) blanched hazelnuts (see note)
3½ large egg whites (105 grams)
1¼ cups (250 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon (4 grams) kosher salt
¼ teaspoon (scant ¾ gram) cinnamon
¼ teaspoon (1.25 milliliters) pure vanilla extract

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: parchment paper or 2 silicone baking liners (such as Silpat)

• Heat the oven to 325ºF (163ºC) with racks in the middle and upper third. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking liners.

• Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven on the middle rack, stirring twice, until golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the nuts cool completely.

• Reduce the oven temperature to 300ºF (149ºC).

• In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the cooled nuts to a fine powder (make sure the nuts are completely dry and do not overmix; otherwise, the nuts will become pasty). Set aside.

• In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until they are frothy and begin to increase in volume, about 3 minutes. With the machine running, slowly add the sugar, then continue beating for 5 minutes. Increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture becomes thicker and shiny, about 10 minutes. Fold in the powdered hazelnuts, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla.

• Drop about 2-tablespoon (20-gram) spoonfuls of batter onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them at least 2 inches (5 centimeters) apart. Bake, rotating the pans once halfway through, until the cookies are lightly golden and set, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool completely. The cookies keep, in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to 2 weeks.

NOTE: If you can’t find blanched hazelnuts, you can use the skin-on type: Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 325ºF (163ºC) until they are lightly golden and the skins blister, 15 to 20 minutes. Wrap the warm toasted nuts in a clean kitchen towel and rub to remove the loose skins. Don’t worry about skin that does not come off. Let cool completely, then transfer the nuts to the food processor and proceed with the recipe.

Excerpted and adapted from the book The Del Posto Cookbook, by Mark Ladner with Michael R. Wilson. © 2016 by Mark R. Radner LLC. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.

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