If you’ve been keeping up with the Xtrawine blog for the last couple of days, you’ll have enjoyed a couple of recipes for some tasty cakes that will look right at home coming out after the big Christmas feast.
Of course, we know that some people don’t particularly like cakes. It doesn’t make a huge amount of sense to us, but it’s true!
And you may be one of those people.
That’s why we’ve got another traditional Italian treat just for you.
Torrone offers something a little bit different and it’s ideal for those of you who prefer the savoury taste of nuts over the fruitiness of…well… fruit.
Of course, we’re also going to help you out with an Italian wine pairing or two that goes really well with the dessert.
Let’s jump right into it.
What is Torrone?
While Torrone is an extremely popular confection in Italy, many believe that its roots lie in Spain. In fact, any country that used to be under the rule of the Spanish Empire seems to have adopted Torrone as a national dessert.
In fact, you’re likely to find it in pretty much any South European country, if you look hard enough.
Still, the Italian version does have its differences to the Spanish version. While both have become traditional Christmas desserts, the Italian version has a few less nuts than the Spanish version.
Regardless, any version of Torrone that you eat gives you two things:
A tasty slab of nougat that’s packed with nuts, usually almonds.
This recipe comes from the good people at The Vintage Mixer and it’s one of the easier Torrone recipes to follow. It creates four “logs” of the confection, which is ideal for most family Christmas dinners.
- Two large egg whites.
- Half a pound of honey. Any honey will do the job but it’s best to go Italian if you want the most authentic experience possible.
- Just a pinch of salt.
- Half a pound of nuts. Traditionally, you’ll use almonds while creating a Torrone, though you can throw other nuts into the mix if you want.
- A teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Some Torrone recipes have you go through nearly 20 steps before you have the dessert ready to eat.
This one’s a little simpler, which means it should take you less than two hours to prepare and cook. Here are the steps.
Pre-heat your oven to 260 degrees Celsius.
Grab a square baking dish (ideally 8×8 inches) and line it with parchment paper. Keep another layer of parchment paper to the side, as you’ll need it later on.
Pour your nuts into the baking dish and even them out into a single layer. Pop them in the oven and bake for about 8 minutes. The nuts should take on a shiny look.
Remove the dish from the oven and set aside for the moment.
Pour your honey into a large bowl and place it over a saucepan of water, which you’ll heat at a low setting. It’s important that the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
Allow the steam generated from the water to heat the bowl until the honey melts. Give it an occasional stir with a wooden spoon.
While your honey melts, pour your egg whites into a small bowl and whisk them until they form stiff peaks.
Add the egg whites to the melted honey and stir well with your wooden spoon until they mix. The resulting mixture should look like a cream that has a caramel colour.
Continue to stir and cook slowly in the bowl for 45 minutes. Over time, you should notice that the mixture gets thicker and takes on a paler colour.
You can test the mixture at the 45 minute mark. Pop a drop of it into a glass of water and the mixture will solidify into a ball rather than dissolve. If it does dissolve, you need to cook for a little longer.
Add your vanilla, salt, and nuts to the bowl and keep cooking and stirring. Do this for a further 30 minutes.
Pour the Torrone mixture over the nuts in the baking dish you prepared earlier.
Pop a layer of parchment paper on top and use your hands to gently smooth the Torrone down.
Place the baking dish in a cool place and leave to set for about two hours.
Once set, use a heavy and sharp knife and cut the Torrone into thick logs or slices. You can then serve or set them aside somewhere cool for later.
The Italian Wine Pairing
Now that you have your Torrone, it’s time to choose an Italian wine or two that goes well with the dessert.
This isn’t the easiest dessert to pair with wine. The combination of the savoury nuts and the sweetness of the nougat make it easy for you to end up with a conflicting tastes.
A softer and warmer wine is usually a good choice for this type of dessert.
Vinsanto is an excellent choice due to its full body and slightly balsamic tendencies. It’s also a good palette cleanser, which allows you to handle the sweetness of the dessert a little better. After all, you don’t want to have one bite and then have to give up because it’s a little rich.
It’s also possible to make Torrone with chocolate. If that’s the route you go down, then the wine pairs very well with a Barolo. The combination of nuts, chocolate, and the King of Wines makes for a tasty Christmas dessert.
Simply put, the richer the flavour of the dessert, the richer the wine that you should pair with it.
Of course, those are all just our recommendations. As we always say, the best wine to pair with your food is always the wine that tastes best to you.
This should give you a little guide. But don’t be afraid to experiment. It’s Christmas after all!