12 ounces sugar
12 ounces honey
3 egg whites
4 cups roasted almonds
4 cups roasted hazelnuts, without their skins
1 sachet of powdered vanilla ["1 bustina di vaniglia"]
4 extra-large, very thin, white-colored "host" sheets ["l'ostia"] sold in Italian specialty food shops
Equipment and materials recommended:
An extra-large rectangular pizza pan about 11"x24" or two smaller ones
Plastic wrap (e.g. Saran Wrap)
Pack of 24 soft drink cans (to be used to as weights)
*Mixture makes about a dozen rectangular torrone pieces -- 11 inches by 1 1/2 inches.
Beat egg whites until they form soft white peaks -- about 5 minutes; slowly add the sugar making sure that the egg whites retain their soft white peaks -- another 5 minutes. (P.S. To ensure that the soft white peaks are retained while the sugar is added to the egg whites one can facilitate the process by processing the egg whites one at a time. First beat one egg white until stiff, then slowly add 4 ounces of sugar; add the second egg white to the mixture and continue beating, making sure the soft white peaks are retained; to this mixture add another 4 ounces of sugar; add the last egg white and continue beating, and then slowly mix in the remaining sugar.)
Gradually add the honey to the egg white and sugar mixture -- about 5 minutes.
Add the powdered vanilla and beat for another minute.
Place the egg white and honey mixture in the top part of a double boiler and allow it to boil just for a couple of seconds. Turn down the heat. Cook over low heat for about 40 minutes, stirring the contents from time to time, making sure the torrone nougat mixture gradually hardens without any lumps.
After 40 minutes add the roasted almonds and peeled hazelnuts into the honey and egg white mixture. Mix well, making sure the nuts are nicely incorporated.
Meanwhile (while the torrone nougat mixture is still cooking) place aluminum foil on the bottom of a large rectangular pizza pan, spreading the foil out of the pan, so that it is almost double the amount (The extra foil will later be used to wrap up the torrone).
On top of the aluminum foil roll out some plastic wrap, spreading it out of the pan so that it too is almost double the amount of the pan. Flatten out the wrap and foil so that there are no creases.
On top of the plastic wrap place a large-sized host sheet. If there is room add another large-sized host sheet next to it. If there is no room, use another pan (repeating the process with the aluminum foil and plastic wrap covering).
After the torrone nougat mixture has finished cooking, spread it out evenly on top of the host sheet which has been placed on top of the foil and plastic wrap (The thickness of the torrone nougat mixture should measure about an 1 inch high).
Cover the torrone nougat mixture with a matching large-sized host sheet; press together.
Wrap the "torrone" with the plastic wrap that is stretching over the pan. Then do the same with the aluminum foil.
Place the processed torrone in the fridge, or preferably in a cold room.
Place a heavy weight (e.g., a pack of 24 small soft drink cans) on top of the torrone and let it remain there for two hours.
Remove the weight from the torrone. Remove the plastic wrap and aluminum foil.
Cut the torrone into long rectangular pieces -- about 11 inches by 1 1/2 inches. One can use a ruler to help ensure that the pieces are the right size.
Wrap the long rectangular pieces of torrone in plastic wrap.
Then wrap them in aluminum foil.
Place the torrone pieces that have now been nicely wrapped back in the pan.
Place the pan with the torrone pieces back in the fridge, or preferably in a cold room.
Re-place a weight on the torrone.
Keep in the fridge, or preferably in a cold room, until needed.
When ready to serve, cut the torrone into smaller serving pieces (about 2 1/2 inches by 1 1/2 inches).
Cecile Berardo notes that this particular recipe (found in an old Italian cookbook) for torrone is relatively easy to do. By using a double boiler to harden the nougat mixture one avoids burning it -- a big plus. As she makes a fair amount of torrone, she cannot use a conventional store-bought double boiler as that would be too small, so she improvises, topping one large pan over another to get the desired result. She has made this recipe for the Christmas holidays for many years and has had great success with it.... Photo: Mary Melfi.