Before you say "hey – wait a minute – torrone is a candy! Not a cookie!" – I realize that. And I sat here just now thinking about that and wondering if I should make a whole new category for candy…or should I just lump it into the "On My Menu" list? Or? Or? It froze me in my tracks.
Fortunately, my sister interceded and made this insightful comment:
"Well, you can still put it in a cookie jar."
And you know what? I can! And you can, too!
So let’s cook up some sugar, shall we?
The recipe I used can be found here – it’s on the Food Network, courtesy of Emeril Lagasse.
One of the things you’ll need is edible wafer paper.
I initially ordered mine from Sugarcraft, but that very same day I got a call from someone in their customer service dept to let me know they were out of stock. While this threw a monkey-wrench into my plans, I really, really appreciated how quickly they called me. I was able to order it from somewhere else the same day. But still – go check out their website – if you are into any kind of baking or sugar work or candy making or just bored at work, they’ve got a LOT of cool tools and gadgets and products to look at.
I ended up ordering the wafer paper through GourmetSleuth.com. That’s another cool site as well, and it’s more about all kinds of cooking, not just baking. I need to go back and browse around – they seem to have a heavy focus on Mexican cooking supplies, which is appealing to me….
Anyway – you will need some of this wafer paper. The torrone is very sticky and unless it has something like the wafer paper to adhere to, it will just reach out and wrap itself around anything or anyone in the way. Really. Remember how I used to have a cat?
Okay, so you’ve got your wafer paper trimmed and placed in a 13 x 9 inch baking pan, per the recipe, and you’ve got all the ingredients assembled – those would include granulated sugar, honey, egg whites, confectioners sugar, toasted almond slivers, and lemon zest.
You will also need a candy thermometer – the temperature of the sugar is rather important.
So first thing you’ll want to do is get your sugar and honey heated in a sausepan.
While that starts to melt together and heat up, you should have everything else ready to go. This means you’ll want to pre-toast the almond slivers and have your lemon zest all grated and standing by. And you’ll also want to have your egg whites already in the SUPER CLEAN bowl of your mixer, and the sugar ready to pour. Once the sugar reaches the proper temperature, a lot of things will need to happen rapidly (I typed "rabidly," which could also apply) so you need to be ready.
The sugar mixture will take a while to come up to the proper temperature. Which is fine, because it’s kind of cool to watch the progress…
Little hot spots of honey lava, bubbling up to the surface. Stir it a bit so it doesn’t scorch….
So what temperature are we at right now? We need to bring it up to 315 F….
Not there yet… If you can’t stand waiting, you could always start whipping the egg whites.
You want to bring them to soft peaks, and then add in the sugar and bring it all up to stiff peaks. Don’t over-beat them – they’ll dry out. In fact, if you want to just get the egg/sugar mixture to a soft peak stage and leave them there until just before you need them, you can do that, too.
Okay, let’s take a peek at the sugar again.
We’re making progress…
Temperature is climbing…
I am pretty sure I mentioned this before in my post about Pecan Squares that you need to be VERY CAREFUL when working with boiling sugar. Anything boiling will hurt if it pours or splatters on you, but boiling sugar is sticky, and if it sticks to you, trust me, IT. WILL. HURT.
Okay, back to staring at the boiling sugar….it’s kind of mesmerizing…hypnotic…very cool…
Okay, keep an eye on that thermometer – we’re getting close now.
Okay, put your camera down and be ready to get this pot off the heat. When you hit 315, pull it off the burner and stir the mixture to cool it slightly – to 300.
If you haven’t done so yet, now is a good time to bring the egg whites from soft peaks to stiff peaks. Once the sugar is down to 300 F, it’s time for the tricky part. With the mixer still running (at a slow to moderate speed) pour the hot sugar SLOWWWWWWLY but STEADILY into the egg whites (meringue). You want to try to run it in a thin stream right down the inside of the bowl – not actually touching the edge of the bowl, but just barely in. Main thing is, you want to try to avoid having the hot sugar drizzle onto the whisk attachment and splatter hot sugar all around the room.
The hot sugar mixture will double the volume of your meringue, but that will go back down as the mixture cools a bit. Keep the mixer running to help cool the sugar/meringue. It will thicken as well. At this point, fold in the almonds and the lemon zest.
Now another fun part – but without the burn factor. Get your 13 x 9 inch baking pan, already lined with the wafer paper…You’ll need to pour the mixture into that pan and very gently spread it to fill the pan evenly. The stuff sticks, like I said before. You can dip your fingers in water and press the torrone gently into the corners of the pan – the water will help prevent sticking. Once you’ve got the mixture pretty well spread out, then top it with the other trimmed pieces of wafer paper. Let it cool on a wire rack for a bit.
Then, with a "no guts, no glory" attitude, flip the pan over onto a sheet of parchment, and your giant piece of torrone should come out. If it doesn’t…give it a minute – the weight of the candy should release whatever hold it has on the inside of the pan.
(I let mine cool on the rack, and as it cooled, it drooped into the spaces between the wire…which is why I’m suggesting the parchment paper.)
Let it finish cooling, and then cut it into pieces.
I’ll tell you this – it’s very smushy and will be…um…challenging to work with. But it’s fun, and it’ll impress your friends, who didn’t realize you could actually make candy.
Someone told me it tastes like those "Bit O Honey" candies…not my personal favorite – the honey, I mean, but it’s authentic – Torrone is traditionally made with honey.
I would like to try another recipe, with different flavors. When I do, I’ll let you know how it comes out.