Nougat, Italian Torrone: A Delicious Sweet And Soft Treat

Nougat is deliciously nutty! I would love to tell you a bit more about this wonderful italian classic.

What exactly is nougat? This sweet confection is a magical combination of egg whites, honey, sugar and nuts.

Where does Nougat come from?  It’s typical in many Italian regions as a Christmas present, but it is found also in other Southern European countries like France and Spain; moreover, it’s part of a wider family of confectionery products, from the Middle East to India, under the name halva. Halva is probably one of the oldest sweets in the world, and nougat shares its genuinity and its real, authentic flavour.

The difference is that halva is made either with a flour base or a nut butter base, whilst nougat uses egg whites to achieve its chewiness and mellow, creamy mouthfeel.

It is said that the Italian name for nougat, “Torrone”, derives from the Latin verb torreo, which means to toast, referring to the beautiful toasted nuts it encases. As a gift for the Winter Solstice, its ingredients had a symbolic value: honey for sweetness, almonds for life strength and egg whites for rebirth.

There are many different theories about the origin of this luxurious Italian confection, and each region has its own legends. Apparently, nougat was already known and enjoyed by the ancient Romans, as historians like Livy and the poet Martial and even Cicero, who referred to it with the name cuppedia, which translates both to gluttony and delicious morsel.  

A legend from the city of Cremona identifies the first traditional nougat with a confection of honey and almonds created by royal pastry chefs for the wedding of Bianca Maria Visconti and Francesco Sforza, which would have been shaped after the Torrazzo, the bell tower of Cremona’s cathedral…

Nougat is delicious and versatile, and it exists with various flavours and textures. Italian nougat was born with a hard, solid consistency. Traditionally, you would bite into it -if your teeth are strong enough- or break it into shards and enjoy it like a candy.

When I got experimenting at Lavolio, however, I decided to focus on soft nougat, which has a higher egg white content, making it much easier -and much more satisfying- for you to enjoy. It’s soft but not sticky, and you’ll find it here in three different variations: with almonds, with pistachios and with cocoa and hazelnuts. All three absolutely delicious.

You can enjoy this traditional italian confection on its own or start stocking up for Christmas…

You do not have to wait for December to have this delicious treat: it’s perfect for after dinner paired with a glass of wine or some coffee, to finish the evening meal or for a truly indulgent coffee break. The three flavours with its beautiful gift-wrap make for a marvellous foodie gift for your friends and family members.

 

Here are a few of my favourite things to do with nougat, besides eating it all on his own!

1- Put little chunks in muffin batter; make a simple recipe more creative and delicious, perfect for kids and to use up any leftovers -if there even are any…

2- Torrone cheesecake -imagine that creamy, indulgent filling made even richer by small bites of delicious nougat.

3- Get sprinkling. Nougat is the perfect way to put a little twist on your desserts. Add some crunch, sweetness and nuttyness to your fruit salads, or on top of a tiramisu.

 

Which one is your favourite way to enjoy nougat?