The delicate texture and unique taste of torrone candy helps explain why this centuries old sweet remains popular today. With patience and the right candy making tools, you can learn how to make your own torrone candy to enjoy with family and friends. Though there are many regional variations of this Italian delicacy, the essential ingredients include: honey, egg whites, sugar and nuts.
A Confection Created for Celebrations
Torrone means big tower in Italian. According to Italian folklore, chefs for the family of the bride created the confection in the mid-1400’s for a wedding uniting two great families in the city of Cremona. A tower-shaped wedding cake, formed from torrone, was enjoyed by guests. Cremona still makes this renowned sweet and holds a Torrone Festival each year during the third week of November.
However, evidence indicates the sweet treat likely originated in ancient Greece or Rome. Historians point to a candy made by the Romans called “cupedia” which was used as an offering for the gods and enjoyed during special celebrations. Roman soldiers probably introduced the confection to the far corners of the Roman Empire, including Italy. People have likely been enjoying this delicious candy since before the birth of Christ.
Make Your Own or Buy Torrone Italian Candy Online
Be forewarned, making your own torrone is a labor of love. Until recently, even the famous torrone makers of Cremona would spend a full 24 hours creating a batch of this delicate confection. It literally takes hours of slaving over a hot stove, though the results are well worth it. Most people simply want to enjoy the end result, the sweet taste of nougat and almonds, with maybe a hint of citrus. Italians traditionally make and eat torrone during the holidays of Christmas and Easter. During the rest of the year, my favorite part of a trip to the deli, with my grandparents, was being allowed to get a small box of La Florentine Torrone to eat on the way home. Now everyone can easily buy torrone candy online to enjoy without all the work.
Here is a family recipe you can try to make your own torrone candy:
Edible wafer paper
1 1/2 cups almonds, blanched and roughly chopped
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
1 cup honey
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon or orange zest (if desired)
Heat oven to 350º. Spread nuts on a baking sheet. Toast, stirring once halfway through, until fragrant and golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer sheet to a rack and allow the nuts to cool completely.
Lightly grease the sides of a 13 by 9 baking sheet. Fit the wafer paper into the pan without allowing it to overlap.
Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Next, add the confectioner’s sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
Attach a candy thermometer to a heavy, medium saucepan. Heat granulated sugar and honey on medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until sugar is nearly dissolved, about 12 – 14 minutes. Stir occasionally and cook until the mixture registers 315 degrees on a candy thermometer - hard crack stage. (The mixture will turn darker and begin to foam as the temperature increases.) Remove from heat and stir for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the temperature to decrease to 300 degrees.
Slowly add the honey mixture to the egg whites with the mixer running on low. Once the egg white mixture doubles in volume, stop mixing to allow the volume to decrease. Then continue beating the mixture until the color lightens, about five minutes. Fold in the almonds and lemon or orange zest. The mixture will be sticky.
Pour the mixture into prepared pan and cover with another layer of wafer paper. Allow the torrone to cool on a wire rack. Remove it from the pan and cut into rectangular bars. Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container with parchment paper between each layer for about a day. This allows the delicious flavors to meld. Your torrone will keep for about 2 weeks.
You Don't Need a Special Occasion to Enjoy Torrone Candy
There are many variations of this traditional Italian torrone candy recipe. You might choose to add pistachios instead of almonds or omit the citrus zest and cover your torrone in chocolate. You may even want to adjust your recipe to make your torrone softer by adding more honey and reducing the amount of sugar. Since the candy can be quite a challenge to make, using the proper candy making supplies can help make the process easier. A high-quality candy thermometer is essential to successfully make your own Italian torrone. The edible wafer paper used to line the pan before spreading out the candy is also essential for the perfect batch of torrone.
Many people prefer to simply buy and enjoy torrone. An Italian holiday tradition, torrone candy makes a perfect addition to a gourmet gift basket. Include it along with some tangerines, biscotti and some special teas or coffees for a tasteful and festive gift. Whether you choose to learn how to make your own torrone or simply buy it, this wonderful Italian candy is one to enjoy any day of the year.