Torrone

Italian Honey and Egg White Nougat

Making torrone at home is quite a production, though it is not difficult. The indispensable ingredient is edible wafer paper, available through mail order (see Sources of Equipment and Ingredients). The type that I use is German and comes in 4 × 6-inch rectangles in packages of 10 sheets. Called ostia (host) in Italian, it is the same material that altar breads are made from. Besides the wafer paper, you need a candy thermometer and a heavy-duty mixer.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • cups whole, blanched almonds, lightly toasted
  • cups whole hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
  • 4 sheets edible wafer paper

Method

Combine the sugar and corn syrup in a deep pan and stir with a metal spoon until the mixture looks like wet sand. Place over low heat and allow to caramelize, stirring occasionally. In another pan, heat the honey until bubbles form around the edges and set aside. When the sugar has caramelized, pour the honey into the caramel and remove the pan from the heat (avert your face, because the sugar may splatter). Insert a candy thermometer, return the pan to the heat, and cook until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, 240 degrees.

While the sugar is cooking, begin whipping the egg whites on medium speed, in a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the whip, until they hold a firm peak. If the egg whites are beginning to become firm before the syrup is ready, add 1 tablespoon sugar and lower the speed to the minimum. When the syrup is ready, pour it over the egg whites while they are whipping on medium speed. Whip 5 minutes to cool slightly.

Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a pan large enough to hold the mixer bowl. Lower the water to a simmer. Remove the bowl with the torrone from the mixer, stir in the vanilla, and place the bowl in the water. Stir the torrone mixture constantly for about 20 minutes, or until a small spoonful cooled to room temperature becomes very firm.

Remove the torrone from the water bath and stir in the almonds and hazelnuts. Line the bottom of a jelly roll pan with 2 sheets of the edible wafer paper and spread the torrone about ½ inch thick on the paper. Top with 2 more sheets of the paper and press lightly with another pan to make the paper adhere and to even out the torrone. Allow to cool until just tepid, then cut into ½-inch bars with a sharp, heavy knife. When the torrone is cool, double-wrap it in plastic and store in a cool, dry place.

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