Torrones are a traditional Italian Christmas treat. According to legend, the nougat confection originated in the 15th century when a sweet made with honey, egg whites, and almonds were offered at a wedding of Italian nobles. The nougats were made in the shape of the Torrazzo of Cremona in Lombardy, Italy. The Torazzo is the bell tower of the Cathedral of Cremona, and the source of the candy’s name “torrone.”
- ½ cup honey
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups toasted almonds, whole
Combine honey, sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture the sugar has dissolved and a candy thermometer registers 300 degrees F in temperature. Remove from heat immediately. Watch very closely because once the caramel reaches 300 degrees it can scorch easily.
Meanwhile, put egg whites and cream of tartar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks are formed, then raise speed to high. Slowly pour in a thin stream into egg white mixture, and beat until mixture has cooled and thickened and begins to stick to whisk, about 10 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and beat in vanilla and almonds. Working quickly, spread mixture into a greased and floured 9” x 13” baking dish.* To spread evenly, I grease a sheet of parchment and place it greased side down on the top and push the nougat flat in the dish. Let cool on wire rack at least 3 hours, or overnight.
*You can use edible rice paper when available on the top and bottom of the torrone. This prevents sticky fingers when eating and adds a professional touch.