Torrone: Italian Nougat Candy
In Italy, torrone is a traditional Christmas dessert—a sweet, toasted-almond candy—with many famous regional variations. The term “torrone” probably comes from the latin verb “torrere,” or to toast, referring to the toasted almonds. Today, there are many different types of torronne available—some soft, some hard and some with chocolate—not just in Italy, but worldwide. Torrone from Sicily, Abruzzo, and the cities of Siena, Alba, Cremona and others are especially renowned.
- 1 1/2 cups good-quality honey
- 3 cups peeled almonds
- 1 1/2 cups hazelnuts
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 egg whites
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 orange rind, grated
Pour the honey into a double boiler and simmer for 11/2 hours, stirring repeatedly with a wooden spoon.
Toast the hazelnuts and almonds in the oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove and transfer to a bowl. 10 minutes before the honey is ready, put the sugar into a small pan with 6 to 8 tablespoons of water and cook until it caramelizes.
Beat the egg whites until a small teaspoon will stand up on its own in the center—and then slowly fold them into the honey. Mix well for 5 minutes. Add the caramelized sugar and mix again.
Add almonds, hazelnuts, grated lemon and orange rinds; mix well for a couple of minutes. Pour the entire mixture into a rectangular low baking mold or Pyrex pan lined with paper-thin wafers (“hosts”)—called “ostie” and easily found in Italy, but perhaps requiring a bit more effort in the US. Otherwise, rice paper or buttered baking paper will also work. Cover with wafers or rice/baking paper. Press and level the mixture with a metal spatula.
If possible, place a weight on top of the entire torrone, and set aside for 30 minutes to an hour.
Turn upside down on a board and cut into small rectangular pieces.
Store the candy in a suitable container with wax paper in between.