What to do with one egg white? Sometimes I fry a couple of eggs and add the leftover egg white. Not only unimaginative, but also not that tasty, having much more white than yolk on your plate.
I simply forget that one white beaten to meringue can create a surprisingly voluminous mass that mixed with only a couple more ingredients makes a simply yet satisfying cookie. Sugar is something most people always have in their larder. A bag of nuts is the other ingredient you need to create this simple yet satisfying and moreish cookie. OK, I have added the seeds of 1 vanilla pod here for flavour, but for the sake of simplicity you may skimp on this.
These cookies are called brutti ma buoni, which is Italian and means ugly, but delicious. I was curious if there are actually prettier versions of this cookie and have researched online. Most of the time they do look rather unattractive, so I wondered if there is a way to give them a facelift. They are ugly mainly because they are misshapen dollops made with chopped nuts. Why not turn the ugly duckling into a a beauty by using ground nuts, which create a more uniform mixture and will let itself mould into round balls or an elegant quenelle shape.
I am all up for turning leftovers into something beautiful, even glamorous, so I suppose these should be called belli e buoni (beautiful and delicious). I have created a recipe for one egg white here, but obviously if you have more it can be doubled or tripled. They are very soft and chewy.
Belli e buoni
(makes about two largeish cookies)
- 1 egg white (ca. 35 g/1 oz)
- 45 g (1.5 oz) sugar
- 70 g (2.5 oz) ground nuts
- quarter teaspoon of vanilla (optional)
- icing sugar to dust
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius (400 Fahrenheit). Beat the egg white using an electric whisk or standing mixer until the whites turn opaque and foamy. Add the sugar in a slow steady stream. Also add a the vanilla (if using) and keep beating until the whites start to form soft peaks. Stop the mixer in between to check on the progress, you don’t want to overbeat the whites. Finally add the ground nuts and carefully fold in with a spatula. Don’t overmix, you don’t want to knock the air out of the whites. Using an icecream scoop dollop 5 cm (2 inch) balls onto a lined baking sheet. Space them about 5 cm (2 inch) apart, because they will spread a little. Bake on a middle shelf for 18 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar to make them pius belli (more beautiful).
Tip: I like to use a baking sheet stacked on top of a shallow baking sheet to bake cookies and make sure the bottoms don’t get too dark.