Torrone Sardo (Sardinian Nougat)

By • November 29, 2013 • 69 Comments

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Author Notes: There are two main ways to make this traditional Sardinian torrone. The first is to place the honey and unbeaten (or lightly beaten) egg whites in a pan then gently heat while stirring continuously with a wooden spoon for 45 minutes. Nuts are then added and mixed for a further 30 minutes. The second way – the way I've done it – is to whisk the whites to peaks and add it to honey melted in a bainmarie before carrying on with the same procedure and stirring, adding nuts, stirring.

It's a simple, even relaxing recipe. No watching of thermometers, no scalding syrup or defining moments. Just a gentle heat and slow, continuous stirring. Put on some good music, or better yet, have some good company in the kitchen with you so you can share the stirring and you're halfway there.

The most traditional recipe uses just almonds and Sardinian honey, which is gathered from the Mediterranean scrub that surrounds the island. Try a small portion of pistachio, pine nuts or hazelnuts too. Try dried figs or other dried fruit in it too, just be mindful of the proportions. You can peel your almonds, but I like the contrast of the skins on, either way, an even toasting in the oven is a must to bring out the flavour. If you wanted to add some further aromatics to the batch, try some grated fresh orange or lemon peel or a freshly scraped vanilla bean pod. Typically, it's set between two special wafers known as ostia in Italian. If you can't get these easily, line your pan with parchment as described below. The result is a soft, chewy nougat - a torrone morbido.
Emiko

Serves 10

  • 1/2 pound nuts, such as whole almonds
  • 1/2 pound honey
  • 2 egg whites
  1. Prepare a small square or rectangular baking dish with a layer of ostia (traditional wafer) cut to size or two layers of parchment cut to size, one long piece covering the dish vertically, another long piece covering it horizontally, so that the sides of the dish will be covered and you can fold the parchment over the top of the torrone while it is setting.
  2. For the nuts, it's traditional to use 100% whole peeled almonds, but you can leave them unpeeled or do a mix, substituting a portion of almonds for other nuts or even dried fruit such as figs. Place the nuts on a single layer in a baking tray and toast in oven at 325º F, about 10-15 minutes or until shiny and fragrant. Set aside.
  3. Place honey in a large bowl over a saucepan of water (bain marie) on the lowest heat. Make sure the bowl is not touching the water. Heat honey until it melts, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
  4. In the meantime, whisk egg whites to stiff peaks in a separate bowl. Add the whites to the bowl of honey, stirring with the wooden spoon to incorporate. It should turn into a caramel-coloured cream. Keep cooking, stirring slowly but continuously over gentle heat for 45 minutes. The mixture should thicken and become pale. A small test should determine that your torrone is at a good stage – a drop of the mixture in a glass of water should solidify into a soft ball, not dissolve immediately.
  5. Add the nuts to the mixture and continue cooking and stirring for 30 minutes. Pour into your prepared baking tin. Fold over the parchment to cover the top and smooth it down, pressing the torrone gently with your hands. If using the more traditional ostia, place another layer of ostia cut to size on top and press gently but firmly. Place in a cool place to set for a couple of hours.
  6. When set, cut the torrone into thick slices with a sharp, heavy knife (a little olive oil wiped onto the knife helps). Wrap in parchment or cellophane and tie with pretty string or ribbon for the perfect homemade holiday gift. Keeps very well wrapped in parchment or cellophane and stored somewhere cool.
Jump to Comments (69)

Comments (69) Questions (1)

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about 1 month ago Maggie

I love this, but mine was waaaaay to sweet, reading through the comments, did anyone work out whether the amount of honey was volumetric or weight based? If I just add less honey, will it still work?

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about 1 month ago Emiko

The amount of honey required is based on weight (1/2 pound or 225 grams) and should equal the same weight as the nuts. You could try using different types of honey and finding one that you prefer the taste of! This is traditionally done with a wildflower or herb honey.

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about 1 month ago Maggie

Thank you, I did, I went a bit overboard with three more batches (one with Brazils which was lovely as well), and found clover honey is a bit nicer :) The only other issue is longevity; they all set beautifully, but two days later they're getting a bit sticky/slimy, and the rice papers I've been using to stop sticky fingers are sliding off...is there a way to prevent this?

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about 1 month ago Maggie

By the way, thanks for answering our questions almost a year after you've written the article!

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about 1 month ago Emiko

It sounds like it's not being cooked long enough - the soft ball test is a good one to be sure that it's set enough. Also perhaps try storing somewhere cool, even in the fridge. Hope that helps!

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about 1 month ago Megan Elizabeth Degwel Prothero

just finished my first attempt, had a slight issue with separation to begin with but a 10min blitz with an electronic whisk got me nicely on my way. mix tasted great, it's gonna be a little thin because i didn't have the right tray for it but all in all quite pleased with myself :)

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about 1 month ago Megan Elizabeth Degwel Prothero

turned out really well but will probably use fewer nuts in future. have been asked to make some with dried cherries instead of nuts for my boss, will let you know how it turns out. it's nice to have found something sweet she can enjoy, she has M.E. and due to extensive food intolerances has a very limited diet. thank you so much for such a simple yet wonderful recipe :)

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5 months ago RW

how long does this keep? Wouldn't it be lovely in a care package.

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9 months ago Amit

Seems interesting!
Can you please tell me if I can use white sugar instead or honey? and at what proportion?
will the process stays same?
Somehow I dont like taste of Honey.

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9 months ago Emiko

You could do a traditional nougat or other Italian torrone, which are usually made with a mixture of honey and sugar. It's a similar process but you may want to look for another recipe. Sardinian torrone is unique in that it only calls for honey. Surprisingly, this torrone doesn't taste of honey though - a delicate honey should be used rather than one with a strong taste (generally speaking a lighter toned honey is the way to go!).

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9 months ago MarenM

My torrone never firmed up! It's stayed incredibly sticky - had to peel off the parchment paper bit by bit. No idea what I did wrong! Any advice??

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9 months ago Emiko

It wasn't cooked long enough - you can try putting it back on the heat again and cook longer (another reader below had success doing this!). Check for doneness by the soft ball method - a drop of the hot mixture in a glass of cold water should firm up into a soft ball and not dissolve.

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10 months ago adamx97

I think once the nuts were added and it became dense it was already thick. I used 8oz honey by weight, should I have used 1cup, that is, 8oz by volume

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10 months ago adamx97

carrie, i had the same experience on 3 occasions: the nuts deflated it and the nougat lost its airiness.

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10 months ago carrie

I tried making tonight and all seemed like it was going well (even the water drop test), but when I added the nuts and kept cooking, the nougat mixture really deflated and ended up mostly nuts. Does this mean I didn't cook it long enough before adding the nuts?

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10 months ago Emiko

This happens, it's quite normal and not necessarily that something has gone wrong, just keep cooking the mixture until it becomes very thick!

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10 months ago diane Sullivan

It actually worked, I only needed 10 more minutes. I am excited to try different combinations of nuts and zests.thank you!

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10 months ago Emiko

oh great to know! I have read about people putting a blow torch to the outside of the pan too - good to know it worked!

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10 months ago diane Sullivan

After reading all 49 comments I realize I didn't quite get to the soft ball stage. Could I take it out of the pan and reheat it, cook till that stage. Or do I throw it out and start over? It tastes great by the way. Thanks!

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10 months ago Emiko

That's actually a good question - you could try recooking it but honestly I've never tried doing that with a non set torrone! If you do, be sure to let us know how it went! Thanks.

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10 months ago Dan Rivera

I'll be making this torrone recipe this weekend!

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10 months ago withinseason

this is new to me but sounds fantastic! so... how does the ostia work exactly? does it attach ans stay on the candy? as in, i cut through the ostia and leave it on...or peel it off before eating?

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10 months ago Ernesto

You cut through the ostia and leave it on since it's an edible "paper" wafer. It basically makes the nougat look pretty and prevents it from sticking. The Torrone is quite sticky to handle. Also, the ostia doesn't really have much taste to it.

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10 months ago Emiko

It's similar to rice paper in that it's edible and keeps your fingers clean - but you can easily use parchment/baking paper instead, just remember that parchment has to be removed before eating!

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10 months ago bkmmtl

Made this last night, unfortunately I only had local Quebec honey. Followed the instructions to the minute however part of the honey and egg did not really set together so the bottom of the Torone is a little mushy. It also has a very strong and sweet honey taste which might be due to the type that I used. I might go buy one in the store to compare as it does taste very sweet. Other than that it is great. Believe it or not I found the wafers at the dollar store which I was not expecting at all.

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10 months ago Emiko

Oh yes, sounds like it definitely wasn't ready to take off the heat yet. I'd recommend a more delicate honey (and perhaps, to be closer to the traditional honey used, a wildflower or wild herb honey). When you think the mixture is ready, you can always do the soft ball test - put a drop in a glass of water and it should turn into a soft ball and NOT dissolve. If it dissolves, you need to keep cooking! Hope that helps. Good news about the wafers!

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11 months ago Printz

I can't wait to try this! Do you have a preference for the type of pot to use? I have heavy All Clad copper (which I love) but it tends to cook hotter when I attempt any type of cooked sugar ( caramel) or rock candy. Does a thinner stainless pot give one more control? Thanks :)

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10 months ago Emiko

Interesting question. I think as this is done on a bain marie that it shouldn't make too much of a difference on the pot as you're essentially cooking with the steam coming from the simmering water below - the copper pot however is very traditional for making this torrone in Sardinia so you're probably all good to go with that one!

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11 months ago I_Fortuna

By the way, I know the paper wafers are neater and nicer but cornstarch applied with a soft fluffly brush (like a makeup mop brush or watercolor mop) will work too. And, if you store the nougat in a paper bag in a cool dry spot or paper lined container, it will be less likely to get sticky.

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10 months ago Emiko

Good tip! Cornstarch isn't very traditional with this torrone but it's certainly handy to know for home cooks, thanks!

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11 months ago I_Fortuna

I was going to make sugar free cookies topped with printed wafer papers from Fancy Flours but I like this idea too. Maybe I will make both. We, and our neighbors are diabetic so I will have to adapt the recipe. Of course, it will not taste authentic like yours but we will be able to safely enjoy it and benefit from the protein in the egg whites. I will also be using pecans since we live in the South. I will let you know if I decide to try it and how it comes out. Thanks for this recipe. : )

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10 months ago Emiko

Good luck, I'd be interested to know how the diabetic version comes out!

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11 months ago Muse

My Dad used to love torrone when he was alive...will make some for Christmas in honor of him. Thank you for posting your recipe! Peace, Light and Love.

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11 months ago Ernesto

I want to make lots of torrone to give away for Christmas (and have some for ourselves). Would it OK to just double the recipe?

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11 months ago Emiko

Of course! Double it works just fine, just keep in mind the volume of the whites once beaten and the logistics when stirring a very large pot over the simmering saucepan!

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10 months ago Ernesto

I made this last Sunday and it turned out great! Because I doubled the recipe, I continued to mix the honey and egg whites for another 15 minutes longer until it was pale and has the texture of a taffy. Thanks a lot for the pairing this recipe!

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10 months ago Ernesto

I meant "posting this recipe".

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10 months ago Emiko

Great to hear! Thanks for the feedback!

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11 months ago lem monade

This recipe is every bit as promising, as it sounded in your instagram "teasers" – I have several torrone lovers in my family and am very excited to try this much more relaxing method.

I had been wondering about the honey choice and suspecting that macchia honey might be the most traditional one. Do you have any preferences? I assume that it is one of the defining flavours here…

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11 months ago Emiko

haha thanks :) Yes, the honey that is traditionally used is usually a local one made from the "macchia mediterranea"! It's what gives it part of its unique flavour. If you can't get that, I think something like wild thyme honey might be a good go...

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11 months ago lem monade

Thank you, I will see what I can get my hands on :)

Tuscan inland macchia or Austrian alpine pasture (including heather, alpenrose, and most probably wild thyme) are the most likely ones.

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11 months ago Kim

Is it possible to make a variation on this with no nuts (or anything) added? Just the nougat. How would the recipe need to be adjusted? Thank you!

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11 months ago Emiko

That's a good question, I would think you just make it minus the nuts and be aware that it would make a much smaller volume of torrone than with the nuts (perhaps use a smaller tin to get the height needed). Let us know how it goes!