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This week is the Festival of Torrone ( La Festa del Torrone) being celebrated in various cities with the most well-known celebration going on in Cremona/Milan.
Torrone is a delicious nougat traditionally made with almonds, but also commonly done with pistachios and hazelnuts.
I make a batch of Torrone once a year and we enjoy some with dessert on our American Thanksgiving and share the rest with our wonderful neighbors. Be forewarned- Torrone is VERY sticky being made and it’s a bit of a pain to clean up. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me since it’s a once a year job, and the result is a delicious testament to love, family, and Italy. The recipe I’ve used for years came from my Zia (aunt) in Italy and I used an online converter to change the quantities from grams to ounces and temperatures from Celcius to Fahrenheit. I LOVE the world wide web!

 
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Ingredients

  • about 3 cups almonds, lightly toasted and cooled (some people use whole almonds- I mix blanched slivered and sliced)
  • 3 x-large egg whites, room temperature
  • good pinch kosher salt
  • about 3 slightly rounded cups sugar
  • 1 scant cup clover honey
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1/2 vanilla and 1/2 almond. I prefer a good vanilla extract)
  • Optional: Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • Have cornstarch available

Directions

  1. Line a 9- x 13- inch pan with parchment paper (NOT wax paper); let excess paper hang over.
  2. Attach a candy thermometer to a heavy saucepan.
  3. Stir together sugar and honey and heat (medium heat), stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved and mixture is simmering.
  4. Cook, stirring occasionally, until candy thermometer reaches 275-280º degrees F. Start the egg whites beating now (see next paragraph)
  5. Watch carefully, stirring frequently, until temperature reaches 315º. The syrup will get darker and foamy as it cooks. 
  6. Beat egg whites and salton medium high speed until frothy. Add confectioners sugar gradually and beat until stiff peaks form.
  7. When sugar mixture reaches about 315º, remove from heat and stir down foam for a couple of minutes. The temperature on the candy thermometer should cool down to about 300 degrees and the syrup should be a toasty brown.
  8. With mixer running on medium speed, very slowly pour sugar mixture down into the egg whites. Beat for about 4-5 minutes till mixture cools down and is very thick, sticky and light in color.
  9. Add vanilla and zest and beat for 1 more minute.
  10. Stir in nuts - it’ll be REALLY sticky. 
  11. Scrape out nougat onto a counter well dusted with cornstarch; dust hands with cornstarch.
  12. Knead nougat a few times, then place in prepared baking dish.
  13. Dust hands well with more cornstarch, then press it out into an even layer in the pan. Let sit for an hour or 2.
  14. Using paper overhang, lift torrone out of pan; cut into pieces. (This is a bit of a pain, but I prefer cutting even pieces this way. Some people simply allow it to dry in one piece then crack it with a knife into uneven chunks)
  15. Layer pieces between sheets of parchment in a large container.
  16. Cover and allow to dry overnight. Torrone will keep for a couple of weeks if kept in a covered container. You may opt to wrap the individual pieces in brightly colored paper. Twist the ends to resemble little Christmas crackers

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