The Italians have misguidedly named these meringue-esque biccos ‘Brutti Ma Buoni’, meaning Ugly But Good. I am renaming them ‘Carino e Buoni’ which according to my pidgin Italian means Cute and Good. In fact, scrap that. They will no longer be damned with faint praise. Henceforth they will be known as Biscotti Bella e Stupefacente. The Beautiful and Amazing Biscuit.
This biscuit recipe is extremely handy to have on standby for when you need to use up egg whites. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has a leftover egg white collection in the fridge. We regularly have a stand off where I will take said container out of the fridge and ask it ‘What am I going to do with you‘. It normally suggests ‘meringues‘ or ‘egg-white omelette‘ and I respond (raising my voice a little) ‘Can’t you come up with anything better than that? Can’t you envision a better future for yourself?!‘ It normally quivers a little so I feel bad and put it back into the fridge, closing the door gently and leaving it to its inevitable fate.
Those days are over and I am now on a quest to find 101 Amazing Ways To Use Egg White. This is Recipe No.1. It is loosely based on two existing recipes – one from The Classic Food of Northern Italy by Anna Del Conte (one of my all time favourite Italian cookery books), and the other from Patisserie of Italy. I have cherry-picked the ingredients and adapted the methods slightly to come up with something that, although perhaps not totally authentic, still retains the contrasting textures and melt-in-your-mouth quality of the original.
A crispy meringue coating surrounding a chewy, gooey, sweet hazelnut disc. Prepare to be….stupefacented(?).
101 Amazing Ways To Use Egg White – Recipe No.1
Biscotti Bella e Stupefacente
Makes 12 little biscuits
- 90g hazelnuts
- 90g icing sugar, sifted
- 70g egg whites (approx 3 eggs)
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 1tsp grated chocolate
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Roast the hazelnuts for 8 minutes. Rub off as much of the skin as possible and then put them in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are fine, sandy texture.
Whisk the egg whites to a stiff peak. Add the icing sugar gradually and whisk until the mixture is shiny and has a stiff peak again. Fold in the ground hazelnuts, cinnamon, vanilla extract and grated chocolate.
Put the meringue into a large pan on a very low heat for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring frequently. The mixture should begin to dry out a little.
Meanwhile, turn the oven down to 160°C.
Line a tray with baking parchment and use a spoon to dollop little mounds of mixture onto the tray, spaced a couple of cm apart.
Bake the biscuits for 16 – 18 minutes.
When you remove the biscuits from the oven transfer them to a wire rack and allow to cool. I said – allow to cool!
NOTE – While the cookies are cooling on the wire rack it is advisable to leave the room. They do not develop their wonderful chewy texture until they are completely cool. Ok, ok, you can eat one straight out of the oven. Be warned though, you wont be the first one to end up with a few crumbs and a guilty expression on your face after those empty promises of ‘Just the one’.