My fault. The thought of making my very own torrone (almond nougat) was so intriguing, I couldn’t wait for N. to join me on this and jumped in at the deep end. When I think of torrone I think of wonderfully sunny late summer Oktoberfest-days, but also rides I should have never gotten on, not with a full stomach anyway. But hey what to do when a pair of big blue eyes talk you into believing that after a Mass (mug of beer), Steckerlfish (‘fish on a stick’) and Brezn (pretzel) it’s a great idea to go on a ride, for old times’ sake, when we did it for hours without getting sick. Today I can safely say that about the first 20 seconds of being on such a ride are fun, the rest is hard work!
Anyway, I never buy torrone in stores, it’s an Oktoberfest thing for me and if I wouldn’t have come across this great looking recipe I would have had to wait another 6 months to get some. Lucky me :) (and I so know that this will be used against me, talking about cookbooks and such).
Keeping the temperatures in check and timing the various ingredients for a smooth cooking process was the hardest part. The first batch of melted sugar I tossed, because that one extra minute was all it needed to turn it into caramel (the sugar/syrup should stay clear). Also, I couldn’t find large enough wafer papers (and didn’t want to deal with a zillion small ones – besides, it would have looked funny anyways), so I decided to proceed without them.
Other than that I stuck to the recipe like torrone sticks to a spoon. Taste-wise it was perfetto, but lacked firmness, even after hours of chilling (perhaps too much honey?). Since it turned out a little short of cutting-grade firmness, I decided to try a workaround which turned the torrone into a delish cold dessert. Two hours in the freezer did the trick, and produced a firm consistency and taste-wise, fully up to par with any purchased ones I have had – no, even better.
PS: If you can think of anything that would help to achieve a firmer consistency, I’d love to hear about it ;)
If you choose to go with the wafer papers, you first want to arrange several of them to evenly cover the bottom of a deep baking tray or baking dish (lined with parchment paper first). Roast almonds and hazelnuts (not the pistachios) in the preheated oven (200°C/390°F) for about 6 minutes or until they’ve become golden brown. Gather hazelnuts in a clean dish towel and rub to remove husks.
Add honey to pan and bring to a boil. Use a candy thermometer to control a steady heat of 115°C (240°F) until the honey starts to foam slightly.
Meanwhile beat egg whites. Continue to whip the egg whites and slowly add the honey, blend well for about 6 minutes, or until the mass sets. Then stirr in the vanilla seeds (I chose to use real vanilla as opposed to the vanilla aroma as the recipe suggests).
Dissolve sugar and syrup in 2 tablespoons of water in a pot over medium to high heat and gradually bring to a boil. Use your candy thermometer again to ensure a maximum temperature of 148°C (300°F), the sugar should not take on any color. Then remove pot from stove, wait a few seconds until it stopped bubbling and add syrup to the honey-egg-white mass while constantly stirring. Continue to stirr until the mass becomes thick and satiny.
Blend in the nuts and distribute evenly across the baking sheet (with or without the wafer papers). The mass should be about 3 cm (~1 inch) high. On top add – again, if you chose to- another layer of wafer papers and use a second baking tray to gently push down to ensure a even surface.
Allow to cool down at room temperature. Once completely cooled down, cut into squares or bars and wrap up in plastic foil. Wrapped up airtight, let rest for a few days for even better taste.
(this is what it looks like 5 minutes after removing it from the fridge; ‘need to work on the consistency…)
Recipe source: dolcissimo from Maxine Clark, p.60, adapted
Prep time: 30min.
Ingredients (yield: plenty):
100g almonds, peeled
200g whole hazelnuts
100g unsalted pistachios, peeled
2 large egg whites
250g Acacia honey
1 vanilla bean (scraped out seeds)
200g fine sugar
3 tbsp syrup (sugar/water mix 50:50)
optionally: wafer papers for baking