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Torrone: Typical Italian Christmas Treat

28 Nov

When it comes to the Christmas season here in Italy, there are three sweet
treats that you’ll find popping up in every supermarket in town: Panettone, Pandoro, and Torrone. Panettone and Pandoro are typical Christmas cakes, while Torrone (tor-ROH-nay) is a nougat bar made with egg whites, honey and sugar, and usually with hazelnuts or almonds as well. It generally comes out only around Christmas time and has both a crunchy and soft version, and can be white or chocolate, or other flavors, and sometimes is also covered in chocolate.

Different regions have different types of torrone, but the one I’m most familiar with and the one I like best is the one from L’Aquila made by the Sorelle Nurzia factory (the Nurzia sisters). I’ve recently found out that the Nurzia brothers have a factory too (what is this, family rivalry?) and have been told their torrone is better, but I’ve never seen it for sale anywhere. I tried to access their webpage here, but it wouldn’t load. But I can tell you for sure that the Sorelle Nurzia torrone we have in the house right now tastes like the inside of Milky Way bar with hazelnuts instead of caramel, and much, much better. (Speaking of Milky Way, I must admit that I am just the slightest bit disturbed by the advertising tagline on their homepage: “Comfort in every bar.” Yikes.) Well, Sorelle Nurzia’s chocolate torrone is certainly more than comfort in every bar… it is simply buono da morire… to die for!

Here is an assortment of torrone artigianale (homemade/artisan torrone) that was on display at a Christmas market near Biella, up in the north of Italy, last weekend.

From the photo I can see two types of soft torrone on offer, referred to as “morbido” or “tenero.” The crunchy version might be referred to as “duro” and has a higher content of hazelnuts or almonds, although in the photo above there is even a torrone that has peanuts.

(On an almost completely unrelated note, while I was surfing around doing a bit of research for this post, I stumbled upon Candy Blog. OMG. Someone reviews candy for their blog—I love it. I am definitely going here for a periodic virtual sugar rush.)

But back to torrone…I’d say it’s a staple in most Italian homes at Christmas time, along with the cakes I mentioned and assorted dried fruits, especially dates and figs. Have you ever tried torrone? Do you have a favorite kind?

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22 Responses to “Torrone: Typical Italian Christmas Treat”

  1. Michelle November 28, 2007 at 1:28 pm #

    Maybe it’s because I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I really don’t like torrone. Panettone (apologies to my adopted town of Milano, the panettone capital!) is also not one of my favorites. If I had to pick among the three, I’d take Pandoro. I like shaking it up in the bag with the powdered sugar! But then I can usually only eat a bite or two. I guess if I think about it, I’m not big into American Christmas desserts either. They’d need to invent a holiday dedicated to dark chocolate for me to really get excited about festive desserts.

  2. sognatrice November 28, 2007 at 1:30 pm #

    Mmmm. I love anything with almonds, so there’s that, but I’m also rather fond of the fruity flavors like lemon and orange.

    I can’t say as though I’ve ever noticed that it was sold tenero/duro/extra morbido…I’ll keep my eye out this year as I’m quite certain extra morbido would be right up my vicolo, so to speak 😉

  3. Daniela November 28, 2007 at 2:06 pm #

    I have to agree, I have never been in love with anything but I do like Pandoro well enough. What I have really wanted to find is a recipe for castagnaccio, is there one in that book from Gina, by chance??? I found a few Italian recipes but am no baker, so wondering how difficult it really is…

  4. nyc/caribbean ragazza November 28, 2007 at 2:11 pm #

    I have been to that Candy blog. Shelley be careful…it’s dangerous. 🙂

  5. Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy November 28, 2007 at 2:24 pm #

    Yum! You should have gone to Biella before coming to visit!! 🙂 I love pistachios in my extra morbido torrone.

    PS: I knew about that Candy Blog…and I have to tell you, there are at least 3 more like it! Ack…addiction.

  6. Stacy November 28, 2007 at 3:03 pm #

    I have never seen such a vast array of torrone but I like the chocolate ones best! hehe they are delicious – just sweet enough but not too rich with a nice crunch from the nuts. Pandoro is my favorite in the Christmas cake category (dont like the raisins in Panettone). Spread a slice with Nutella and enjoy! we’ve also cut it into layers, spread chocolate between them, and stack them back as a Christmas tree. Delicisous!

    Ps – can we put in an order for torrone with you? ::wink::

  7. Sherry November 28, 2007 at 4:03 pm #

    That looks so good. I love nuts. I wonder if I can find that in the States or order it from somewhere. We always get pannetone at Christmastime because it makes delicious french toast. Hardly even needs any syrup, it’s so sweet and yummy. Seems like we need to expand on our Italian sweets for the holidays…

  8. Zerlina November 28, 2007 at 4:46 pm #

    No mention of panforte, to my mind the ultimate Italian Christmas goodie?

  9. Robert November 28, 2007 at 5:00 pm #

    I would not be hugely familiar with the different types of torrone, but prefer the soft version that is sold through our local Italian deli at Christmas time.

    I also recently had another version that was like the rolled torrone featured in the bottom right of your first photo – chocolate inside, almond nougat on the outside.

    Honestly I can say I have never met a torrone I did not like…

  10. Jen November 28, 2007 at 5:23 pm #

    I would like to try some chocolate torrone, but haven’t stumbled across any yet here in Philly.

    (Pssst, you forgot to include a link to Bleeding Espresso for today’s yummy recipe from Gina’s book…)

  11. jessica in rome November 28, 2007 at 6:00 pm #

    I love Christmas in Italy! Time to get fat!

  12. finnyknits November 28, 2007 at 8:22 pm #

    Oh – that looks like a good somethinruther to bring back to the States as “Fun Italy Stuff” for the fam. *IF* I don’t eat it on the plane.

    Extra morbido for me – chocolate with hazelnuts.
    Duro for Bubba – chocolate with almonds

  13. Kelli November 28, 2007 at 9:32 pm #

    I haven’t ever tried it, but it looks interesting. Foods like this often scare me a bit. I’m picky about nuts. I’d like it with cashews and dark chocolate.

  14. TNP November 28, 2007 at 11:03 pm #

    When I was a child my father would bring bags of Torrone from Italy after a visit to my grandparents. They were about an inch and a half squared and some were dark chocolate and some were white chocolate. Both were very hard and did a number on my teeth. But oh, the pleasure!

  15. anna l'americana November 29, 2007 at 2:40 am #

    Never liked torrone, not big on any of the Italian xmas treats but OH, SHERRY! I never thought of making french toast out of panettone!!!! What a fabulous idea – and probably the only way to make it worth eating for me – without raisins, definately. ……..I must try that soon. Living in Maine now, so served with really good local maple syrup – oh, gotta go to the kitchen right now!!!!!

  16. J.Doe November 29, 2007 at 4:04 am #

    I like the soft kind.

  17. Rachael November 29, 2007 at 7:12 am #

    Never tried it. But guessing I’d like it. Almost anything in combination of chocolate and nuts.

  18. Gil November 29, 2007 at 9:17 am #

    Nice mouth size pieces compared to the puny ones they sell in the US.

  19. Jenn November 29, 2007 at 5:21 pm #

    Torrone sounds like something I would like to try. I wonder if any companies export it from Italy to the USA? Hmm – I will have to do some searching. Thanks for the post I love learning about new things.

  20. Jenn November 29, 2007 at 5:38 pm #

    I found a site where you can get two kinds of Torrne in the US.

    http://markethallfoods.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=115

    They have lots of foods they export from Italy and other places around the world. Looks like a great site to bookmark. Just thought I’d share.

  21. cheeky November 29, 2007 at 8:44 pm #

    I’ve not had it in Italy but I have had nougat from France and it was delicious. White with almonds, honey and lavender. So sweet. I would love to choose from the variety you have shown.

  22. Sara August 26, 2008 at 5:30 pm #

    thanks a lot for writing this! I’ll be visiting the Fratelli Nurzia workshop with Ela Gandhi who is visiting L’Aquila tomorrow and I’ll be albe to explain her the production of torrone in English!
    It is my favorite btw, it is actually better than Sorelle’s one….
    thanks ,
    Sara

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