Sweet Delights – Turrón a Combination of Nuts and Honey not to be Denied

When in Spain, nibble as the Spanish do – that’s my motto.  I figure the locals are in the know and I’ve never been proven wrong, my theory has only been validated.

Turrón (Spanish), torró (if you are in Barcelona), or torrone (Italian), also know is nougat is a candy mostly made of honey, sugar, and egg white, with toasted almonds or other nuts.  It looks like this:

turrons up close and delectable (in Barcelona)

Its a popular Christmas dessert, with the wrapping often so pretty, that I am loath to tear into it.  (That feeling usually does not last for long.)  I’d often wondered why, as good as nougat is, that we cannot get it more readily.  For the record, its not limited to these two countries, as can be expected, varieties exist in Latin America and the Philippines.  Places where Spain and Italy had colonies and cultural influence.  Of course these other regions put their own stamp on this dessert and modified it to local tastes.  The addition of chocolate would be a good example.

Legend has it that a master confectioner named Pablo Turrons invented this almond nougat in Barcelona in the 19th century during the Spanish Succession using only what he had available, almonds and honey.  Sadly, this was a creative fiction, but thankfully the truth is just as interesting.  In reality, all versions of turron have their names traced back to the Latin torrere (to toast).  That clears up the name, but the confection itself, owes its existance to the Iberian Muslims who made a similar dessert named turun.

if you are open to options there are plenty to be had

Almond and honey are still the main ingredients for turrón (and for purist, the only ingredients).  They also claim only two types of turrón are legit:

soft Jijona turrón (turrón blanco)

hard Alicante turrón (turrón duro)

Jijona and Alicante are towns near Valencia, with Jijona is considered the epicenter of  turrón production.  It makes sense that these towns are located as they are, as this area produces much of the produces of Spain and that includes many nuts such as the almonds.

The hard version is made by roasting and chopping the almonds and adding them to the honey, which is simmered over constant heat.  When the time is right, egg white is added as a binding agent.  The the mixture is cooled, cut into pieces and packed.  The soft variety takes it a step or so further, the cooled block of turrón is ground with the separated almond oil to form a glutinous paste.  It is then reheated and beaten for hours to form a soft white mixture before it to receives a dose of egg whites to bind it all together.

my kind of place

One way it gained such acceptance, was as far back as the 16th century, traveling turrón salesmen made their way around Spain selling their goods.  In Madrid, they were only allowed to sell in restricted areas, and the penalty for deviating from this dictate was to have their goods confiscated and given to charitable organizations.  For some it might have been worth the risk, but a taste for turrón soon developed that continues to this day.  (source: Culinaria Spain, Trutter, 2008, h.f.ullman)  This practice continued for centuries, emigrants from Eastern Spain established business in Northern Africa while others moved overseas and helped satisfy many a sweet tooth in the colonies from California to Buenos Aires to Havana and Montevideo.

eat your heart out

Adaptations from other countries:

In Peru, the turrón generally is soft and may be flavored with anise.

Traditional Italian torrone comes from Cremona, Lombardy, range widely in texture (morbido, soft and chewy, to duro, hard and brittle) and flavored with the likes of citrus and vanilla, with plenty of options in the nut department: whole hazelnuts, almonds and pistachios or only have nut meal added to the nougat.

In the Philippines, they have their turrones de casuy, produced in the province of Pampanga. It is a bar of marzipan made with cashews, and wrapped in white wafer, or there is the turrones de pili, made using the native pili nut.

A confectionery similar to the hard style of Spanish turrón is made in the Czech Republic called Turecký med “Turkish honey.”

soft and yummy

 

I’ve mostly had the Italian version and now my share of the Spanish, but I am intrigued by the addition of the anise in the Peruvian variety. Any favorites for you?

 

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17 comments for “Sweet Delights – Turrón a Combination of Nuts and Honey not to be Denied

  1. March 18, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    That is a speciality I love! Just divine.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. March 19, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    I LOVE nougat!!! Or torrone, which I know it better as. I’ve never had the Spanish version, I usually have had the Italian version only. I wish I could try this!
    sophia recently posted..Shedding the past

  3. March 22, 2012 at 5:27 AM

    I knew torrone had its roots in the Arab world but had no idea it also came from Spain. I’ve only had the Italian (came back with 20 bars of it from Italy) but it is a weakness of mine!
    Claudia recently posted..Warm Mushroom Salad

  4. March 24, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    I’ve been wanting to try making turron or torrone for years! I have to find a time when the weather feels like cooperating because we have way too many humid days here. I’d love to do a taste test of all the different varieties.
    lisaiscooking recently posted..Fig Bread

  5. March 24, 2012 at 7:49 PM

    I’ve had the Italian version of torrone which was wonderful fresh. Although, like you, I’m very curious about the Peruvian variety.

  6. Lori
    March 25, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Nougat always had such a negative reputation growing up. I mean, why have nougat when you can have chocolate? But seeing it in the context of the cultures it came from makes all the difference. I say nibble, and nibble some more!
    Lori recently posted..Broccoli and Pastured Bratwurst over Pumpkin Quinoa

  7. March 26, 2012 at 10:34 PM

    I am nuts about all these nuts!
    Angie@Angie’s Recipes recently posted..Soya and Almond Cookies

  8. March 27, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    I have only found the Italian here. The citrusy ones are especially good. I’d think that the Filipino turron is probably easily available in NoCal so I will look for that. They are so good and after reading what they’re made from I can see why. Angie’s comment is perfect and funny, too, as it reminds me of that cable show, Daria (now sadly off the air). Did you see the episode when she had to work at a nut shop at the local mall? Hilarious!

  9. March 30, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    An excellent post again on a very tasty Turrón!!! I love this speci
    Sophie recently posted..A rustic spinach & green asparagus soup & some latest awards!!!

  10. March 30, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Oeps, I love this special hard type of candy a lot & a great post this was, as usual!

    I just gave YOu an AWARD! Why? Come over @ my latest post & check it out! Yeah!
    Sophie recently posted..A rustic spinach & green asparagus soup & some latest awards!!!

  11. March 31, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    I had no idea that nougat was made with honey and that it had such a tradition behind it! Your posts are so educational!
    I WIlkerson recently posted..10 Ways to Reuse Household Water in the Garden

  12. OysterCulture
    March 31, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    Rosa – It really is,

    Sophia – Be on the lookout, I bet there’s a Spanish shop or two where you are

    Claudia – I was only an Italian torrone eater before this trip, but have since branched out.

    Lisa – Everything I read tells me you will have killer arms just in time for short shirt season by the time you are done.

    Christine – if I find some before you, I’ll be sure to let you know.

    Lori – my new motto

    Angie – =) that’s what I love about you.

    Stevie – Now you have me intrigued about this tv show. I need to hunt down some of the Filipino variety too, and press my luck for some Peruvian.

    Sophie – Well, thank you very much

    I W – Thank you, I just have fun exploring. =)

  13. April 3, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    I love nougat in any form, but especially the chewy versions. I am up for a nibble…hope you saved me some :)
    Magic of Spice recently posted..What’s for lunch? Pear, Plum, Citrus and Red Onion Salad

  14. April 9, 2012 at 8:53 PM

    I am curious to try out the Peruvian style flavored with anise. Here we can only find nougat during the holidays and we try to buy a little extra for the rest of the year, but they never last!
    vianney recently posted..Rick Bayless’s Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion

  15. May 13, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    I bought tons of this from a shop in Barcelona. I never actually looked into the story of the candy and how it’s made, so this is perfect. They’re so sweet and delicious. It’s hard to pass up on the candy, although it can be murder on your teeth. :)
    The Duo Dishes-Chrystal recently posted..Where Lost Is Found

  16. October 8, 2012 at 4:16 AM

    I’ve not tasted anything as exotic as aniseed added, but am currently working my way through a peanut one I got in Spain and am thoroughly enjoying it’s simplicity.

  17. Joseph Augustus
    January 12, 2014 at 9:13 PM

    I absolutely adore Spanish turron. They’re wonderfully addictive. They’re made with high quality Marcona almonds and the finest honey. I don’t care much for the Italian torrones as I find they don’t have the richness of the Spanish varieties or the butteriness of Marconas. Turron Nata-nuez Is my favorite soft turron. Turron de alicante with candied orange peel is my favorite hard turron.

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