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Christmas Nougat

  • 55 minutes
  • Difficult
  • Desserts and Fruit
In our version of the classic Sicilian nougat, we replace honey with sugar, making for a satisfying Christmas treat.
Sicilia

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb almonds
  • 2 lb sugar
  • extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:

Peel the almonds, after immersing them for some seconds in boiling water and chop them coarsely.

Put them into a pot, on the heat, together with the sugar and stir vigorously with a wooden spatula until the mixture takes on a burnt brown color.

Transfer the Torrone immediately to a marble pastry board (or a metal oven pan) previously greased with a little oil.

Level the surface using the wet blade of a large knife.

Allow to cool and then cut into small pieces of the desired size.

Food History

Torrone (or nougat) is a sweet treat found throughout Italy and Spain during the Christmas season.

The origins for this sweet are still unclear: some historians believe that nougat comes from China, the place where almonds come from, and then spread to the Arab countries, and finally to Italy and Spain. Another theory suggests that nougat derives from a Roman sweet, reported by Apicius, that resembled modern nougat. Other documents written in 300 a.c. seem to demonstrate that a dessert made from sesame seeds and honey was already in existence in Sicily prior to the Roman Repubblic. This recipe closely resembles a Sicilian version of torrone that is still produced today.

In reality, it is most likely that nougat is originally an Arab recipe, but was modified based on pre-existing Italian recipes, and spread across the peninsula centuries before arriving in Spain.

Torrone is prepared across Italy according to different, local recipes. In Sicily, for example, there are a large number of varieties including almond, pistachio, sesame and peanut nougat. Some of the sweets are dipped in chocolate, while others are made with sugar or honey. Torrone is one of the most popular holiday sweets in Italy.

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