Olive Me Blog

Teresa Parker blogs about restaurants, recipes, and the reasons why she's in love with Spain's food and culture.

Torrones from Italy have made their way into American specialty food stores, but I don't touch the stuff. (Well, not unless I'm at Tony's Colonial in Providence, Rhode Island.) I wait instead for friends in Spain who know about this problem to send the more almond-y turrones. {C}Which they all know they're supposed to do at Christmas time. This year, the lovely Xesca came through with three different versions made by the Alemanys in Lleida (so that makes these torrons, not turrones). Though turrones are made in all the almond-growing areas of Spain up through Valencia and Catalonia, the two versions that claim to be the originals are made in Alicante and Xixona, where you can find them endowed with an I.G.P. designation (indicación geográfica protegida). To get the gold wrapped calidad suprema rating, your turrón has to be at least 65% almonds. The Alicante version is most like Italian nougat -- whole toasted almonds in a honey-based meringue -- but it sets up to a much firmer hard crunch; the Xixona is like an almond version of halvah, with a crumbly but melting texture; the yema version, purists would say, is not really a turrón, but this is no time for food snobbery because the stuff is divine, a very smooth almond paste that incorporates more sugar than honey, more yolks than whites, and has a crispy burnt sugar crust on top. Maybe for next Christmas I'll do an in-depth study aimed at finding the very best artisanal turrón in the country. Or I'll develop a top-notch recipe of my own. For now I'll just eat these last few crumbs.

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