Tis’ the season. As Christmas approaches, we pull out all our favorite recipes from peppermint bark and gingerbread cookies to chocolate fudge and torrone gelato. Wait, torrone? If you’re wondering what torrone is, it’s an Italian delicacy consisting of honey, sugar, egg white, toasted almonds, and other nuts. Torrone is an exotic and unique flavor for the U.S. that is quite fitting for the winter season and is traditionally shared as part of the Italian Christmas tradition. Torrone was initially presented as a gift to important governing figures like the high priest in Rome, therefore creating a tradition around Italy of giving the gift of torrone. Its symbolic meaning as a festive treat gives light to its name which derived from the Latin language and means “toast”, as in to toast or commemorate a moment of celebration.
However, in the United States, our holiday traditions include exchanging pound cake littered with scattered pieces of candied fruit. Yes, I am describing the classic fruitcake that has been jokingly dubbed the unwanted gift from your neighbor. But what if torrone was offered as an alternative treat this holiday season? Torrone has a light and airy consistency that pairs well with dried fruit, chocolate, and variables from the nut family such as toasted almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, and sesame seeds. This delicacy is not only a great flavoring, but can be presented as an Italian fudge, though less dense.
The culinary possibilities are endless from flavoring a pastry dough or frozen dessert such as gelato, ice cream, or soft serve with torrone for a one-of-a-kind artisanal dessert. So add another novelty to the fruitcake exchange this year, and “toast” in the New Year with the gift of torrone all season. Buon Natale!