During the holiday season, I most enjoy celebrating my heritage by making traditional Spanish Christmas treats that my family has come to love. Polvorones, mantecados, buñuelos de viento, rosquillas, alfajores, and turrón de Navidad. Although so far away, it's through these traditional family recipes that we are able to keep a Little Bit of Spain in Iowa.
I'm told that Christmas time in Spain is a magical place. The streets are brimming with lights, nativity scenes are adorned throughout the city, and pasteleria's are filled with Christmas treats that make their appearance but once a year. What I most enjoy about Spanish Christmas treats is that the integrity of their original ingredients are mostly maintained. Their treats are simple – made up mostly of lard, chocolate, nuts, and honey. They're pleasantly sweet, and rich.
Turrón de Navidad is no exception. An almond nougat candy, it consists of only three ingredients. Roasted almonds, egg whites, and raw honey.
Turrón is of Moorish origin and was invented over 500 years ago in a small town of Spain called Jijona. The wildflowers growing in the mountainsides brought an abundance of honey which is the staple ingredient in turrón.
There are two traditional types of turrón. Soft Jijona orturrón blando, which is smooth with a consistency of peanut butter, and hard Alicante or turrón duro, which is like the recipe provided here – a thick almond nougat candy.
This recipe is what you would call a turrón casero. One made at home. It's very simple to make as it only has three ingredients. The egg whites, the binding ingredient, are whipped to a glossy meringue and folded into warmed honey. Together, its brought to heat and constantly stirred until a thick caramelized candy has been formed. This can take anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. Once caramelized, roasted almonds are added to the mixture and poured into a mold to cool and harden.
Once cooled, the candy can be sliced and served. Slices should be cut small, as they are rich. I can't think of home in Spain that doesn't enjoy turrón de Navidad in it's Holiday season. I hope you can make it a part of your Holiday's as well.
Turrón de Navidad
- 1 ¾ cup roasted almond slivers (preferably soaked and dehydrated)
- 1 ½ cups honey
- 3 egg whites
- Roast the almonds at 375F for 10 minutes mixing them up halfway through.
- In a medium sized saucepan; gently bring the honey, over medium heat, to a slow boil. Once it starts to boil, turn the heat off, and set aside.
- Whip the egg whites to a thick glossy meringue. Carefully, fold the meringue into the honey.
- Once the meringue has been folded into the honey, bring the mixture back up to medium heat constantly stirring for 15-20 minutes. The meringue honey mixture will soon increase in volume. As you keep stirring, it will condense itself until a thick caramel has formed. Also, the color will slowly change from a light brown to a deep burnt orange. The bottom of the mixture may start to burn a bit which is okay. It adds depth in flavor. *To test if your mixture is thick enough, add a bit to a plate and immediately place in the refrigerator. After a minute or so, if it hardens, your mixture is ready.
- Once the mixture has thickened add the roasted almonds and mix through. Quickly pour the turron mixture into a parchment paper lined dish. Place another piece of parchment paper directly on top of the mixture which will allow you to press it down and prevent anything from sticking to it.
- Cool in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours before slicing. Buen provecho.