Italian hazelnut and chocolate meringues

These traditional biscuits are famous for not being the best looking biscuit in the world but probably one of the most delicious. Called “brutti-ma-buoni” in Italian, they are a delicious combination of a cross between a meringue and a Ferrero Rocher and they are crispy and melt in the mouth and a bit macaron like… they are also gluten and dairy free. Hazelnuts and chocolate are a fantastic combination of flavours and textures and I added a little vanilla to mine. They are perfect with a coffee at the end of a meal and they are super easy to make. I think they make fantastic home made gifts wrapped in cellophane with a ribbon. Perfect at Christmas.

50g of 70% dark chocolate (I use Green and Blacks)
2 egg whites
1/2 cup of golden caster sugar
2/3 cup of roasted hazelnuts (I rubbed most of the skins off while they were still hottish between two tea towels) but you can buy them with the skins removed
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste (optional)



preheat the oven to 180c or 350f and line two baking trays with silicon sheets or parchment paper and set aside.
Put the cooled nuts and the chocolate into a food processor and blitz until you have the texture of fine breadcrumbs.
In a large mixing bowl and with an electric whisk beat the egg whites with a teaspoon of the sugar until it firms soft peaks. Add the rest of the sugar slowly whisking thoroughly, a teaspoon at a time until the mixture is white and glossy and meringue like. Fold the vanilla paste and the chocolate and hazelnuts in gently until just mixed in.
Put a tablespoon of the mixture spaced out evenly and apart on the trays and put into the oven. Switch the oven off straight away. Leave them in the oven without opening it overnight or until stone cold.
When you take them out they will be crisp and dried and meringuey. You can dust them with unsweetened cocoa powder if you fancy. They will last for up to 7 days in an airtight container if you can resist them that long.

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