After tasting cookies like these in French and Italian bakeries, I spent a lot of time trying to make them at home — time well spent. Whether you call them rochers (rocks), as the French do, or follow the Italian tradition and dub them brutti ma buoni (ugly but good) or make up a name for them, as I did; whether you use almonds (my choice) or hazelnuts (as many Italians do) and walnuts, you get quick-to-make cookies that are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. The primary ingredients are few (and gluten-free) — nuts, confectioners’ sugar and egg whites — but to bolster their flavor and make their taste as interesting as their texture, I added cocoa, cinnamon and chopped chocolate. Make them once, and then make them anyway you want — try adding ground ginger and chopped crystallized ginger to the dough instead of the cinnamon and chopped chocolate, or even along with them. Or ditch the cocoa and go for a pinch of ground coffee (or instant espresso).
They really are a doddle to make – they come together in no time and should cooperate in the oven if you follow the recipe directions properly. I accidentally used not only sliced instead of slivered almonds but I also didn’t chop them after I had toasted them, meaning they made the batter stick up in a weird way.
The good news is that they are very forgiving and, given they have the word “uglies” in the name, they are not supposed to be perfect. So, though they were a little “rocher”-like, I felt they passed muster 😉
Certainly in terms of taste, they do. Crunchy and chewy (could have been a little more so – see below) and chocolatey and nutty all at the same time – they are a lovely addition to any espresso saucer.
A word of caution: I used a 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop for these so I knew they would need to bake longer. I second guessed myself there and these ended up being a *tad* overbaked (it didn’t help that they don’t spread so I had a dome in the middle of mine that I was not sure was properly cooked – it was – though I knew the edges were). Do yourselves a favour and make these smaller rather than larger and follow the baking time in the recipe so you’re sure to get the correct crunchy/ chewy texture 😉
Get the recipe for Dorie Greenspan’s Cocoa-Almond “Uglies” on page 140 of Dorie’s Cookies.
Want more cookie recipes? Buy Dorie’s Cookies on Amazon (this link should bring you to the Amazon store geographically closest to you) or for free worldwide shipping, buy from The Book Depository. Then join us over on Tuesdays with Dorie and bake your way through the book!
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Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of “Dorie’s Cookies” for review purposes. I was not asked to write about the book, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions 100% my own.
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