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During the autumn when driving through Lombardy Italy along the Lakes Region you come across fall food festivals in just about every village. I have to admit that we have to stop at every market. I am addicted to markets discovering something new every time and love the atmosphere.
Stands full of beautiful huge cakes of torroni in every color and flavor make deciding which one to buy a very difficult task. There are soft varieties (morbido) to hard in all colors and flavors. Even though they are relatively expensive, I buy a portion of several flavors to take home. I like to put a dish full of cake shaped torroni for guests to enjoy with a little grappa after dinner. I know that my guests appreciate this thought as none of them have ever experienced torrone like this. Often you just find a few boxed varieties in the market at Christmas.
Torrone festivals are celebrated in many cities in Italy from the toe of the boot in Sicily to Lombardy. Cremona claims to be the birthplace of torrone. It is believed to have first been made for the wedding banquet of Bianca Maria Visconti and Francesco Sforz on October 25, 1441. The Festa del Torrone is held every year in the historical center of Cremona in mid November. About 80 tons of torrone are eaten by thousands of visitors and the residents eat their share also.
My father use to sell Sperlari Torrone in our market during the Christmas season as it was mostly eaten only during Christmas. It has become more common and available year round in Italy. Enea Sperlari was a candy maker who made tarrone famous. When we go to Como and Lugarno there are always local Torrone vendors along the streets. But I was surprised to find stand after stand during other holiday periods. Now you can find it available almost year round, but not in as many varieties.
Recipe by IT Chefs
150g egg whites
1200g hazel nuts shelled
Prepare a syrup with the sugar and water by heating it to 140° C. Melt the honey and bring it to 120° C. Put the egg whites in the mixer or bowl and begin to whip them with the whisk, then add the syrup at 140° C a trickle at a time, followed by the honey at 120° C. Continue whipping for approximately 5 minutes. In order to maintain the temperature of the mixture and to cook it, wave a blowtorch beneath the bowl of the mixer. Put the dried fruit in a baking pan and then into the oven to toast; the fruit should be added to the mixture while hot, otherwise stirring it in would prove to be difficult.
Replace the whisk in the mixer with the spatula and smoothen the mixture for two minutes. Add the dried fruit and stir it in, in a few minutes the torrone will be ready. Remove the mixture from the mixer, when at around 100° C, spread it out on a host leaf (foglio di ostia) flattens it out and cover it with another host.
Finish spreading it out with a rolling pin
To a thickness of 2.5 to 3 cm.
The best way to cut a crumbly torrone is to place the knife blade on the torrone and tap it sharply with the other hand to obtain irregularly shaped chunks. Torrone should be kept sealed in a cool dry place.
For more detail information and pictures of how to make torrone go to Itchefs web site: