Being raised in Latin America means that similarities with Spanish traditions abound. Turrón, is definetly one of them. Nowadays you can find it year round in certain stores. But as soon as Christmas scent starts to fill the air, every market sets up huge displays of these sweets all over the country. Just like in Spain!
There are many varieties of this delectable dessert. Chocolate versions, egg, soft, hard, pistachios, hazelnuts, you name it. But probably the oldest and also more common kind of turrón is turrón duro (hard nougat). Its simplicity is incrédible, yet the taste is powerful and round. Almond, honey, maybe some sugar, a splash of lemon juice and egg whites are its main and only components. A simple nougat if you may.
I did know that turrón was the main Spanish dessert by Christmas, but I don’t know of anybody that makes it at home. When I started the research on the culinary traditions of Spain and decided to make turrón for dessert, most people would look at me very oddly. Can you make that yourself? I must confess I thought the same thing. I was even considering just to write a bit on the turrón tradition, but then I started seeing instructions as to how to make it. I was baffled at the simplicity of the ingredients and the process. My previous idea, as was everybody else’s, that this can only be made in an industrial kitchen immediately evaporated.
The only thing that might be a bit hard to find is the thin wafers used to place the turrón. It’s there so your hands don’t get sticky and to give it some shape. It is made of the same material used by the Catholic church to make its consecration bread. So, you have three options. Number one: try to get in contact with the nuns that make the wafers and ask if the would sell you some big pieces. Number two: go to a store that sells Colombian products, or maybe a very good pastry store. They might have them. Or number three: try the Boil and Trouble Store under the Spain section. So much easier! It will be sent to you. 😉
In my humble and completely biased opinion, this is the best treat of the season. The almond and honey flavours of this sweet confection is unbeatable. Make it at home, spread the love around as it is a perfect gift for Christmas. Easy to make, loved by kids and adults alike. What more can you ask? So for this Holiday, wherever you are, if you are listening to Sir Christopher Lee’s Hard Rock Christmas songs, or singing Carols at Church. If you are skiing on a cold mountain place or going through a very warm summer in Chile. I wish you the best Christmas you can get, in the company of sweet as turrón desserts. Or better yet, turrón itself… it goes with EVERYTHING!
- 1 cup of honey
- 1 cup of granulated white sugar
- 2 cups of marcona almonds
- 2 egg whites
- 8 obleas (6"diameter) (paper thin wafers)
- Juice of half lemon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- In a saucepan using medium heat, toast the almonds until they are golden brown. Set aside.
- Here's a little trick, if you put the honey for 15 seconds on the microwave, it will be much more easy to transfer it to a big heavy bottom saucepan. After that's done, heat it on a low setting for about 10 minutes. This will help it to lose some water and thicken. Do not stop stirring through the whole process.
- After the 10 minutes, add the sugar. Keep stirring for another 10 minutes. A runny, caramel like mixture will form.
- Meanwhile, on a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. When that happens, pour the hot mixture in a drip over the whites while beating them at medium speed.
- Remove the whisk from the machine, and beat the mixture by hand using a wooden spoon. It will be tough! Transfer the whole thing back to the saucepan, add the almonds, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Beat by hand with the spoon for another 10 minutes. The mixture will get a very hard to work with consistency. I know, I said it was simple to make... tough, but simple.
- Once done, prepare a baking sheet with wax paper. Set 4 oblea wafers on them. To each wafer, pour a fourth of the mixture right in the center of it. With another oblea, very very carefully so you don't break the wafer, press on the mixture so it spreads out evenly. Nice and slow!
- After the four pieces are complete, put the sheet in the fridge for at least 8 hours for the turrón to set and harden.
- Cut with a knife into big chunks to serve. Keep refrigerated to store.