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Homemade sweet treats are always good, especially homemade torrone! This Italian Christmas candy with roasted nuts is sweet, chewy and delicious. Italian nut nougat is also simple to prepare. Famous soft torrone comes from Alba, Siena, Cremona, and Benevento, but you can make your own white nougat which is just as tasty with almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, or pecans.
Honey and citrus are key components of Christmas-style Italian nougat candy. Nuts are widely used and you can choose from almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, or pecans. Mixed nuts would be good in torrone Italian candy too.
Italian nut nougat can be hard or soft and medium-sweet or very sweet. You can even find chocolate covered white nougat in Italy. Store-bought or homemade torrone is typically served after lunch or dinner around Christmastime. Many Italian families serve it with mandarin oranges or with dried dates or figs. Once you know how to make torrone, you will want to make this perfect edible gift all the time.
If there is any left over after the festivities, it can be chopped and used in cheesecake, semifreddo or sprinkled over ice cream. Chocolate torrone and homemade nougat is really versatile, another reason to make your own Italian candy!
Nougat and torrone are different terms for the same thing. But what exactly is traditional torrone and what’s the best way to make this sweet confection?
Similar to meringue in terms of ingredients, not texture, nougat is served by itself or as part of candy bars and other desserts. It various from light and airy to chewy and stiff. It’s made with egg whites, honey (sometimes sugar instead of honey, or both) and fruit and/or nuts. Ingredients like whole almonds and edible wafer paper are often used in Christmas nougat.
Nougat-making goes back hundreds of years in the Middle East and Europe. It might not be the easiest dessert to make but it’s not hard as long as you have the right ingredients and equipment. You will need a layer of wafer paper and a candy thermometer for the perfect torrone too. I am all the details for how to make nougat here!
2 Sheets wafer paper cut to fit 8×8 pan
12 Ounces honey
1 2/3 Cup white sugar
3 egg whites at room temperature
1 Dash salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract clear for a whiter torrone
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
3 Cups nuts roasted almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, or pecans
Prepare a 9” square baking dish (or similar size) by lining it with plastic wrap, ensuring the bottom and sides are fully covered. Cut both sheets of wafer paper to fit the size of your baking dish. Place one sheet of the wafer paper into the bottom of the dish, set the other piece aside for later.
Take the room temperature egg whites and beat them with a dash of salt in a stand mixer until you achieve soft peaks. Keep them in the stand mixer for later.
Take a medium to large sized heavy-bottomed pot, and add your honey and sugar in. Stir this mixture on medium heat until it has reached 300 degrees F.
Once your sugar mixture has reached 300 degrees, remove from heat and immediately bring it over to the stand mixer. With the mixer on medium high stream in about 3 Tablespoons of the hot sugar mixture, let it fully combine with the egg whites and whip for a few moments before slowly streaming in the remaining sugar mixture.
Add in the lemon zest and vanilla extract. Pay close attention to how thick the mixture is getting as it cools, continue to whip it until the sides of the bowl are cool enough to keep your hand on it for 10 seconds, when this happens add in the nuts and give it one good mix to combine then shut it off. However, if the mixture is getting too thick before the bowl is cool enough to keep your hand on it, add the nuts in and stop mixing at any point.
Working quickly, pour the mixture into your prepared baking dish, on top of the wafer paper. Gently spread as evenly as possible. You can use a lightly greased spatula to spread the nougat if needed.
Top the nougat with the second wafer paper sheet. Gently press everything down tightly and flat, trying to get as flat and level of a top as you can – you can use the bottom of a cup or ramekin to help smooth it out if needed.
Let cool at room temperature.
When ready, carefully turn the torrone out onto a cutting board. Remove the plastic wrap and use a long serrated knife to cut the torrone into desired sizes.