Thursday, 3 November 2011

The quintessential Christmas sweet

Turrón de guirlache
Doesn’t it seem like every year Christmas preparations start earlier? As soon as November arrives, I start seeing the first signs of Christmas:leaflets coming through the door, decorations, advertisements, special Christmas foods, etc. As I was thinking about this, I realized that starting Christmas earlier gives one the excuse to enjoy one of my favourite Christmas treats for longer, Turrón Turrón! I just love Turrón, a traditional Spanish Christmas sweet, in English known as Nougat.There are two types of Turrón "hard", made with whole almonds and "soft", made with ground almonds.Turrón is made by amalgamating almonds with a whole range of other ingredients, chocolate,hazelnuts, walnuts, pine nuts,peanuts, honey, sugar, lemons and eggs.The choice of components is the individuals choice. 
Nowadays there are all sorts of varieties and flavours, but the original one,was brought to Spain by the Arabs during the Moors occupation.
In Spain there are some very artesanal turrones that are a real treat, but if you can´t get your hands on these, try to make it yourself! And it will be a lot of fun too!!
During Christmas, and now starting in November!, it is kind of moorish to have a plate with different turrones and Christmas sweets around the house to have as a bite in the afternoon.
The 16th-century Manual de Mujeres ("Women's Handbook"), Spain´s forerunner to Mrs Beeton, a sort of Consuela´s handbook of recipes for cosmetics and foodstuffs, has what is probably the oldest extant Spanish Turrón recipe. It calls for honey and some egg whites, cooked until it becomes breakable once cooled. Once the honey is caramelized the recipe suggests adding pine nuts, almonds or hazelnuts, peeled and roasted. The mix is then cooked a bit further, and finally removed from the heat and cut into slices.
My artesan favourite is the brittle Turrón de guirlache. Its name comes from the French "grillage" (toasted  ) and was popularized  in Aragon.It is now a regional speciality of Aragon, particularly around Zaragoza, Catalonia and Valencia.Lets get cookin´.......

1Kilo sugar
Half a kilo of whole raw Marcona almonds
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons honey

Place a piece of lightly oiled parchment on a cutting board, a baking sheet, a piece of marble, or anything else flat that can take heat.Set aside.
In a skillet heat the sugar until it forms a caramel. Add half a kilo of raw almonds, the juice of half a lemon and two tablespoons of honey.Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly for about 15 minutes.Pour the mix into the reserved baking sheet and with the help of half a lemon greased with oil, spread the the mixture evenly into your desired shape and thickness, normally a rectangular bar about one inch thick. When cold and set you can start cutting it, and tuck in.

2 comments:

  1. oh my god I adore Turron, how lovely to have a recipe of my own... thank you x... did you ever try the Turron liquor? yummy!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Turron liquor?-tell me more.Is it like a fusion of Amaretto and honey licore?

    ReplyDelete