Last week, I spotted a really simple recipe for torrone and even though I thought I wasn’t a fan of the Italian candy, I just had to give it a try.
Torrone, if you’re unfamiliar, is a shiny white nougat dotted with nuts and dried fruits that makes an appearance in every Italian shop and household at Christmas time. I’m sure my brothers and sister remember it as that weird white candy our Italian relatives would faithfully send every year. We’d dare each other to try it after we finished our more palatable peanut butter balls and cut-out cookies…in other words, it may be an acquired taste for some.
Well, it’s a taste that I’ve now acquired! This likely has to do with the fact that this is a softer, chewier torrone; the torrone of my childhood was torrone “duro”, a very hard candy that would split into crunchy shards when cut. Torrone “morbido” is a soft, chewy torrone. It’s made with whipped egg whites and honey, cooked together until they’re thick and sticky, then flavored with whatever nuts and dried fruit you like.
Interested? You should give it a try! I’ll walk you through the process.
First things first, recruit someone to sit at the kitchen table to chat with you or find a good podcast to listen to–you’ll be standing at the stove stirring for a while. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Gather your ingredients–just some honey, a couple of egg whites, nuts, and dried fruit. I’m using roasted almonds and dried apricots with lemon zest in this batch.
Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Wondering what to do with the yolks? You could make it an entirely Italian-themed day and make spaghetti carbonara or this pasta for dinner.
Melt the honey in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add the egg whites and get stirring.
Keep stirring until the mixture begins to thicken and lighten in color. Add the almonds, apricots, and lemon zest.
Keep on stirring until the mixture becomes quite thick and is difficult to stir. The color of the nougat should be almost white at this point. Scrape it into a pan lined with parchment or waxed paper and let it sit in a cool place for a few hours to set.
Once the candy has set, cut it into long strips or bite-sized pieces with a sharp knife.
Wrap them up in waxed paper, tied with a ribbon, to give as gifts. I’m planning on hoarding a few for myself and giving the rest to my family to see if I can change their minds on this whole torrone matter.
- ⅔ c. Honey
- 2 Egg Whites
- 1 c. Roasted Almonds
- ½ c. Sliced Dried Apricots
- zest of ½ Lemon
- Prepare the baking dish to hold the torrone while it sets. Use a loaf pan for thicker bars of candy, a square baking dish for thinner pieces. Line the pan with parchment or waxed paper, allowing enough extra to hang over the sides and fold over the top of the torrone.
- Place the honey in a medium heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water. Let the honey melt and become very liquid while you whip the egg whites.
- Using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the whipped whites to the warm honey and stir with a wooden spoon until the 2 ingredients are well-incorporated. The mixture will be loose and caramel colored at this point. Keep stirring until the mixture begins to thicken and the color lightens, about 45 minutes.
- Add the almonds, apricots, and lemon zest to the egg white and honey mixture and continue to cook, stirring slowly, until it is almost white in color and becomes difficult to stir, another 30 minutes. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and fold the paper up over the top of the torrone. Allow the candy to set in a cool, dry place for a few hours or overnight.
- After the torrone has set, cut it into long bars or bit-sized pieces, using a very sharp knife. Coating the knife with kitchen spray will help you get a nice, clean cut. Wrap the torrone in waxed paper and store in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator.