Friday, February 12, 2016

Torrone (Italian Nut & Nougat Confection) – A Stirring Valentine’s Day Treat

The theme of this torrone post was originally about making this gorgeous candy for your Valentine, but then I realized what would be even better than making this for your sweetheart, would be making with your sweetheart.

While very easy, this procedure does take about one and a half hours to complete, and most of that time is spent standing at the stove, stirring, which is why tag-teaming this Italian confection makes the job much easier, and I’ll assume a lot more fun.

By the way, this is the real way to make torrone, and by “real,” I mean the really old way. Today, most candy makers use a much faster method, where a caramelized sugar syrup is simply added to the whipped egg whites. I’ve tried this both ways, and while the modern technique is way faster, I much prefer this method. It seems to have more soul, whatever that means.

Using this ancient technique, you don’t need to worry about precise timing, specific temperatures, or potentially painful burns. Besides, standing and stirring something on the stove for that long is surprisingly therapeutic. Watching the ingredients slowly, and magically change, as your home fills with the sweet aroma of warm honey, is almost as enjoyable as the amazing candy you end up with. Almost.

The visual clues, and times I give in the video should be enough, but don’t forget the cold water trick I showed you. That’s a great way to check you work, and sneak a taste. I hope you give this a try very soon. Enjoy!


Recipe adapted from this one by, Enzo Maragucci
Makes about 80 (1-inch) square pieces:
400 g honey (about 1 1/3 cups)
250 g white sugar (about 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons)
2 large egg whites
pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 rounded tablespoon lemon zest
3 cups roasted almonds (I used Marcona almonds)
1 cup roasted pistachio
2 sheets “wafer” paper (*edible rice paper)
*Follow this link for info on the one I ordered
If you don't use the wafer paper, you can just spray plastic wrap with oil, and that also works. Some people use cornstarch, but I'm not a fan. Google for many other tricks.  

- I used an 8 x 11 baking dish to mold mine in.

49 comments:

SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

This is very pretty

Tony Arra said...

Your candy videos are few and far between, but they're among some of your best. Have you ever done Halvah? My attempt at it in the past resulted in a goopey mess.

mathchickie said...

This is one of my favorite candies. I can't wait to make it !!!!

Mitchell Mayo said...

Is there any big differences between this and divinity?

Parisa ST said...

Chef John,
This is , by far, one of your most interesting videos to watch. We have almost the same thing in Iran. It's called " gaz".

Unknown said...

Would other nut/dried fruit combinations work in this?

Karishma Hossain said...

Hi chef, is that possible to make this without honey? And seems like you didn't take off that wafer paper . Can you eat that along with the candy?

Jim Phillips said...

OMG, do people even read the text of the post? It clearly says that it is "edible" rice paper.

Chris K. said...

If you want to want to make the stirring stage more exciting, try it wearing nothing but an apron. Just don't post the resulting pictures on Instagram. Oversharing on social media is gauche.

Angela said...


What is the shelf life of this candy and how is the best way to store it?

LuisaCA said...

I've been wanting to make these for YEARS ! My nonno used to give them to us every Christmas. I know he went over to North Beach from Marin to get them. Now my dad (the current "nonno") does it but Man has the price gone up and the size gone down !

Mark Anderson said...

I believe a tandom stirring is what is wanted

Ron Williams said...

Are you talking too fast? Please slow down.

Unknown said...

I made it yesterday. It came out super delicious, but the texture is somewhat like a chewing gum. Impossible to cut... I cooked the eggwhites for 20 minutes only, because the ribbons were already hard enough, so I figured I am done. Should I melt the whole thing again and it will harden?

Dawn DeMeo Photography said...

I love torrone (and gaz, as another reader commented...very similar but uses a different sweetener than honey I believe). I'll certainly be trying this! Has anyone tried adding cocoa powder? If so, how much works well, and what stage would be best.

David Rinker said...

I made this today and I have a couple of observations that might help others.

First, I made a half batch (so take that for what it's worth) but the cooking time was significantly shorter than the ~40 minutes mentioned in the video. Mine was done in 25 and could probably have come off a tad earlier. While I would expect a smaller batch to perhaps cook a little faster, I'm surprised that it finished that much quicker.

Second, the color of mine was quite a bit more yellow. That hints at honey and I used the lightest colored honey honey I could find. I'm sure I used the correct amount (measured right at 200g for my half batch) but that seemed like too much.

While the end result is delicious, the texture was more gummy than the video indicated it should be. Assuming that the recipe scales well (which might be incorrect), I now am curious if the 400g of honey is perhaps not too much? I think next time I might try a little less...(and YES, there will be a next time because this stuff is still crazy good! :)

beemo said...

Off topic here CJ but here is a sort of Sino-Indian chicken wing treat from Vahchef that just might be something you'd want to make a Foodwishes version of: "Chicken Lollipops" (!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAwUCvm5egg

Josh said...

Chef John, I love your videos, but I'm a little disappointed with this one. Although I do like your method of going slow I think you could have, in the video or in the blog, at least given key temperatures. You usually do this in your other videos; "and for those of you who wanted to know that's 310F". Like the others I had a gummy and brown finish. Upon watching other videos (of the fast method) it seems imperative to not over heat the honey. The temperature you need to get it to is right on the edge of actually scorching. Another blog I read said they had a beautiful foamy mixture before the eggs and once you crossed over that line of too much heat it deflated and got dark again which is exactly what I experienced.

My end result is still delicious but more like taffy and an expensive mistake... Something like this, candy, really needs to go by temperature. Not by "medium low for about 20 minutes"

Gemmagirl said...

Per Natale. Can't wait.

Muna Kenny said...

This dessert is one of my favorites when I was a kid. My mom used to by a much thinner version though. Thanks for sharing the recipe Chef :)

Friends in Faith said...

This looks really good. Great Ideas for dessert.

CPMMA said...

I have usually been able to replicate your desserts without a hitch, but this one is giving me fits. Both times I've tried, I end up with this very gooie, thick, syrupy like stuff. It never really hardens at all. Any suggestions? I followed your directions to the t as laid out in your video.

john balogna said...

Hey Chef. I have made a lot of your recipes and follow your directions to the letter. This one didn't work out to good. I used a darker honey as that is what I had. So the color difference in the finished product I can understand. Its the texture that threw me. My came out like a hard candy not a firm nougat. I never let the mixture get to any boil so it should not have made it to the hard ball stage I was as you say a cooking and a siring for over and hour and 20 minutes. My end product also never made it to the stage where the ribbons stayed on the surface for 4-5 seconds 2-3 if i was lucky. It tastes good just the texture is off what did I do wrong???

dustin said...

I made a half batch and I stirred even longer since mine didn't turn very white, and even after a night in the fridge, it is almost impossible to cut because it is so sticky.
I'm a little disappointed of how it turned out :/ but it still tastes good.
Some people here reported the same, so maybe it might be a good idea to use a little less honey.

Also, because I lack experience I'm a bit unsure what "low heat" means.. is it barely on, warm or fairly hot or even almost boiling? I don't know, I think I could have touched it without burning my fingers too much.

Nevertheless I'm glad that I found your video channel and I'm looking forward to try more recipes! :)

aelisei said...

What I'd really like to know is whether you feel there's a significant difference in taste or texture between the two methods of making it?

Andrew Scott said...

Torrone looks awesome. I think instead of mixing the nuts into the nougat I'll sprinkle peanuts on top along with a layer of your salted caramel sauce recipe. That way I can cover it in chocolate and have home made snickers bars!

Enmanuel De Jesus M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Enmanuel De Jesus M said...

Hi John, big fan here. The sugar and honey mixture did not turn white after I added in the egg whites; it remained a gold color. Perhaps it was too much honey? Also, the texture did not firm up after 40mins. of stirring as shown in the video; the ribbons still disappeared immediately into the surface. What am I doing wrong? Can you please revise the recipe?
Thank you! Greetings from San Francisco, CA.

Chef John said...

I'd love to revise the recipe, but I can't, since it worked perfectly for me. Sorry, but unless I watch someone make this start to finish, there's no way I can tell what went wrong.

Enmanuel De Jesus M said...

Hi again. Thank you for replying. The taste came out great, everybody at work loved them. It was just the color that was off, but nobody cared, they had no mercy and devoured them all. I think next time I will use either a different, lighter honey or smaller quantity. Would you recommend, as an alternative, to replace a small amount (1/4 cup) of the honey for corn syrup? Thanks for your great recipes and your awesome sense of humor.

Isabelle Bancroft said...

Hello i want to say thanks for the recipe we did it
They are great and yummy and hard like i want them to be !!
We are going to do it again different flavor and some color
again thank you !!!!!
This recipe is perfect sll you have to do is follows the rules

. said...

Hello, Chef John!

I truly love all of your recipes and tried to make torrone today. Unfortunately, the look of it wasn't the same as yours.
Here are the steps of how I did a messed up job:

1-Added 1 1/3 cups of honey + 1 cup and 3 tbsp of white sugar

2-Stirred and stirred AND stirred

3-After 30 mins, added 1 whiskful of whisked egg whites at a time
(My mother accidentally added lemon zest right here. I was pretty frustrated at her.)

4-Stirred until my hand was about ready to fall off (40 mins)

5-Added vanilla extract & roasted nuts.

6-Stirred it well.

My results were a brown gooey mixture, not worth eating.

Oh, and I did not use any special pot for the mixing stuff. Just the plain ol' stainless steel.

What was it that I did wrong?

Chef John said...

Did you do the water test to make sure the mixture was cooked enough before adding nuts?

. said...

Yes, I did. But unfortunately, mine did not float. It sank at the bottom :(

But after I added whiskfull of egg whites at a time, my mixture got lumpy. (Yes, I did have someone mix the mixture constantly while I added the egg whites.) So I thought getting the mixture to float wasn't worth it, since my torrone was already ruined, lol

Was it a mistake? I mean, not waiting for the ribbons to form in my mixture?

Betty said...

Success!! I LOVE your videos, Chef John! I finally got around to trying the Torrone recipe. It turned out beautifully. With some apprehension I increased all ingredients 1-1/2 times the amounts because I only has 2 8x8 square pans and I wanted little cube shapes like you made. That's exactly what I got, perfect little cubes with wafer paper on the top & bottom. They are fabulous!

RCG said...

Why do you not include the directions in your recipes? I'm unlikely to be watching the video to see what you're doing as I recreate your recipe. I have ended up watching the video again to write up the steps, but it would be so much more convenient if they were included in your recipes.

Riley Huddleston said...

Just watch the video on your phone. Thanks John for the recipe. Mine out not quite as white. But I think it was due to the darker honey. First time didn't turn out right, burner was on too hot. Second time around it was just barely above simmer on our crappy stove.

LLC MatreshkaYug said...

Dear John!! thank you for the recipe! Already second time I'm doing according to recipe - and have my mix not hard. It is spreads !!! what I do wrong ??

Unknown said...

I have made this recipe twice, learned from my mistakes, and would like to share a few tips that may help with problems people are having.

Most important:
1. Use a deep, wide pan like a Dutch oven – not a saucepan. In a Dutch oven, the liquid will have about twice the exposed surface area compared to a saucepan. This will help the liquid evaporate faster and the mixture will thicken faster. (If you watch the video closely, you can see that Chef John is using a Dutch oven, though he doesn’t explain why it is important.)

2. Keep the heat low. If the mixture starts to boil, it is too hot, and the sugar will begin to caramelize and turn brown. When I checked mine with a thermometer, the temperature was about 240 F.

Other thoughts:
1. Use an organic lemon for zesting. The skin of conventional lemons is usually treated with a fungicide to prevent mold.

2. I am sure wafer paper is awesome. But if you want to make this NOW, and can’t wait for Amazon to ship you a package of wafer sheets (or you don’t want to spend $17 for a lifetime supply of something you are only going to use once or twice), dusting the finished candy with cornstarch as you cut it is a reasonable alternative. That will help keep it from sticking to everything.

3. Use fresh (non-crystallized), light-colored honey for a lighter-colored candy.

4. The mixture will foam up as you add the egg whites. Be sure to whisk vigorously to beat out all the clumps and make a smooth mixture.

5. The video says the mixture will turn a lighter color when it is done. I made this twice and didn’t notice any significant change. But if you use a wide pan and stir for 40 minutes, it is almost certain to get thick enough.

6. Both times I made this, a few small dark specks formed in the mixture as I was stirring it. Maybe some of the egg proteins coagulating? I picked them off the spatula with a finger when I saw them, and they were not noticeable in the final product.

I hope this helps.

nb said...

If I wanted to replace the honey with sugar, how much sugar should i use to replace the honey?

LLC MatreshkaYug said...

Dear Unknown!
Thank you for the tips! So, did you achieve the crunchy structure?

Michael Cleary said...

I have seen written versions of this method before and, frankly, did not believe it would work (no hard crack syrup? How can that be?) Then I watched the video of this recipe and thought it COULD work. Then I actually tried it and it DID work, and beautifully.

I think a steady, low heat is essential -I used an induction hob set at 210F most of the time. I have seen recipes saying cook it over a double boiler, which would be about that temperature I guess (though I'm guessing any sort of steam is not a friend to this candy).

I tried the hard crack syrup method before and had a lot of trouble with it. It took a long time to reach hard crack and then it had a burnt taste.

This method is, in my opinion, actually easier. The video gives good visual cues regarding the different stages of the process and inspired me to give it a try.

LLC MatreshkaYug said...

Dear Michael, you mean 210 F durig cookinf honey with the sugar or in final cooc (egg whites with caramel) ??

Michael Cleary said...

210 F, throughout the process.

LLC MatreshkaYug said...

Dear Michael, so 210 F = 99 C It means "almost boiling".
In this case no caramel will be created. So "strondly" melted sugar+honey+white eggs mixed for the long time in this case will give this nice crunchy structute after get cooled??

LucyLou said...

Thank you so much, Chef John!! I have made 6 batches now and they have all been perfect. We made two batches for our daughter's wedding. It was a huge hit. Now it will become a part of our Cmas ritual. I followed the instructions and video to the letter. The color of mine did turn lighter with the addition of the egg whites. The consistency was perfect. I used Lee's Bees cotton honey. I don't have a dutch oven. I used a Le Creuset tall 16 quart stock pot (the one with porcelain enamel interior surface). I have a gas stove and I started the mixture between low and the first notch. I moved it to low just before adding the egg whites. The Amazon edible rice paper is awesome and I plan to use the life-time supply. Just wish I knew where to buy an 8x10 pan. The 8x11 is working fine in the meantime!

0ca0321e-d446-11e6-aa0b-ff558cf2d1bb said...

Tried it twice. Failed twice.

First try my "low" flame was too high for the first stage. Instead of honey and sugar becoming smooth and creamy, it broke and looked scorched at the end of the half hour. Added eggwhites anyhow since I had them ready. Mixture never reached the 5-second ribbon stage of the video. Never turned white. Had to throw it out.

For my second try I put my cast iron enameled pot into a cast iron skillet over low heat. This acted as a diffuser system. First stage was fine. Added eggwhites. 40 minutes later it was white but not to the 5-second ribbon stage.

Cooked over diffuse low heat for another 10 minutes. Still did not reach the 5-second ribbon stage.

Water test resulted in a soft clay product. Added vanilla, lemon zest and nuts (warm and roasted). Mixed in and it never got as stiff as the video shows.

Poured it in the prepared pan. Tamped down with a half-lemon as in the original recipe. Covered with top layer of wafer paper and plastic. Tamped down with a flat weight. Waited two hours for it to cool.

Resulting product is hard and brittle, not a soft nougat. Cutting it with a knife produced dust and flakes. It came out hard even though it never reached the stiffness of the video. Came out hard even though I could pour it into the prepared pan instead of having to shovel it in as in the video.

My elevation is roughly 500 feet above sea level.

heptagon said...

Hello from Russia, Chef John.
Thank you for your awesome videos and blog.
I tried to make Russian Tea Cookies (burned them from bottom, still very tasty, will re-make) and Torrone. Waiting for Torrone to cool atm.
I really enjoyed the stirring meditation of Torrone making and the transformation of ingridients. Exactly as you said.

I did not understand one thing: after I added whipped whites to the honey, the volume of the candy increased about 4-5 times (!). And stayed so for 40+ minutes of stirring.
What could be the cause? Possibilities:
1. I used 3 whites, because considered my eggs to be medium, not large.
2. I added whites not by whiskful, but with slightly larger portions I guess, about twice of whiskful each time.
3. My honey was solid at first (i.e. crystallized), I had no other in shops. It melted right away.

Thanks! You and your video style are awesome!

heptagon said...

In addition to my previous comment: after long cooling the nougat did not solidify, it is still gooyey like a dough. After laying on a surface it sloooowly spreads to the sides :) Will try to "cut" to pieces and dust with starch today.
I asked an advice of a friend in a small local cookie bakery.
I definitely took one egg white too much.
And probably the foaming may be caused by some reaction between honey and alkalinish egg whites. Maybe I did not heat honey enough or heated it too much ... In the end of 30 minutes the honey temperature was 100C (212F).