01 Dec Torrone: a delicious Christmas dessert
ITALIAN TORRONE: HISTORY AND TYPES
From North to South, hard or soft, torrone is one of the most appreciated Christmas desserts in Italy, together with the two other famous desserts: Pandoro and Panettone.
The classic Italian nougat is a delicious sweet bar made of egg white, honey, sugar and almonds, but there are actually many types of torrone that you can find all over Italy.
You are going to read about all torrone varieties and its origins, still misterious.
Torrone History and its origins
Some say torrone originated in China, almonds’ home country from where a nougat forerunner spread, reaching the Mediterranean coasts thanks to Phoenician trades.
To support this, we know for sure that in Ancient Greece athletes would eat the “nux gatum”, a delicacy made of nuts and honey.
This recipe was later revisited by the Romans, who called it “nucatum”, from which the French word “nougat” is supposed to derive.
Other people claim that torrone may have been first created by the Arabs.
In fact, Sicily was conquered by the Arabic people called Saraceni, who named this almondy dessert Qubbiat. Does it ring a bell? Yes, this Arabic name reminds of cubbaita, a Sicilian dessert similar to torrone.
Types Of Torrone In Italy
As with many other Italian desserts, there are countless types of torrone that vary according to texture and ingredients.
First of all, there are many torrone varieties in terms of texture: it can be hard, soft, chewy or brittle.
The texture of theItalian nougat depends on two key factors: cooking time and the rapport between honey and sugars. To obtain a hard texture, for instance, the cooking time must be long – up to 12 hours.
The classic torrone is made out of the following ingredients: sugar, glucose, egg white, honey, almonds. However, they may vary according to your taste.
Instead of almonds, for example, you can find ingredients like chocolate, pistachio, hazelnut, gianduia, dried fruits or citrus peel.
Nougat flavors vary as well: from vanilla to lemon, orange and any other flavor you love.
If you’re allergic to nuts you can choose a nut-free torrone, where nuts are substituted by figues, herbs or spices.
Italian Nougat Regional Varieties
All over Italy there are so many types of Torrone that it’s quite hard to find them all. However, here you can find the most common regional variety: Cremona’s is the most well-known.
Torrone Di Cremona
The nougat made in Cremona strictly follows the tradition: almonds must compose at least 50% of the mixture made of honey, white egg and sugar.
Torrone sellers in Cremona still claim that it was during Bianca Maria Visconti and Francesco Sforza’s wedding banquet, on October 25th 1441, that torrone was born. It was shaped as a small reproduction of Torrazzo, the 112-meter bell tower of Cremona’s cathedral.
From the small apothecaries in the 6th century, the production of torrone passed on to pastry chefs’ workshops in the 19th, and industries in the 20th century for a large scale production.
Nowadays in Cremona you can find worldwide famous Sperlari and Vergani shops, considered the best torrone brands in Italy!
If you happen to be in Cremona in November, you must go to the Festa del Torrone (Nougat Festival) where you can get to taste the real thing!
Torrone in Northern Italy
Here you can get to taste “torrone mandorlato” (almondy nougat) in two regions specifically: Veneto, where a rare type of honey with salty aftertaste is used, and Piedmont, where its PGI hazelnuts sweet taste clearly stands out.
Torrone Fun Facts
Did you know that the first nougat producers were pharmacists and apothecaries and, only after some time, bakers and pastry chefs?
It was considered a cure-all by Arabs according to their ancient texts. So whenever you feel a bit under the weather, take a bite of torrone!
Some torrone chefs, also decide when to produce it depending on the moon phase?
Crescent moon is the perfect time to make torrone: it is said it helps whipping white egg, thus creating a nice fluffy cream.