Torrone Siciliano (Sicilian Almond Brittle)

August 19, 2015

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This sticky, brittle made from almonds in hard caramel is a Sicilian specialty, symbolic of all holidays, fairs, and festivals, from Carnival to Christmas. But it's also found all year round over the whole country, most often at street fairs—where hefty blocks wrapped in cellophane are sold from stalls bearing all sorts of traditional candies and treats like marzipan fruit and cookies. In Sicily, particularly in the Noto Valley, you'll find it in pastry shops and cafés during any month of the year.

It is an extremely simple recipe, just be aware there are a few key points when you need to be paying attention—otherwise you can easily end up with a disaster.

First: Keep your eye on sugar when it's on the stove. The sugar gets to a point where it changes character and color very quickly. One minute, it's a pile of sugar melting very slowly; the second you turn your back, it's a bitter black mess. You want to catch it when it has just finished melting into a syrup the color of dark amber but not too much darker. (What does dark amber look like? This post has more details.) You're aiming for a pleasantly bitter flavor like the top of a crème brûlée, so keep an eagle eye on the pot.

Second: You will be very, very tempted to touch the sugar as you're waiting for it to melt. Resist. Stirring or fiddling with the sugar as it's melting can introduce air and cause crystallization. As soon as the sugar goes into the pot, do not touch it! Just watch it until it melts into a syrup, or give the pot a very gentle shake once the sugar starts to melt. Oh, and don't use plastic to stir the almonds into the syrup—it melts (spoken from experience). Go with a wooden spoon to be sure.

Third: Do not let yourself get burnt by caramel. It's a kitchen accident you do not want to experience.

Fourth and final-most point: As soon as the nuts go into the caramel and the whole thing begins to cool down, the mixture will be begin to harden quickly and become difficult to work with, so have everything prepared beforehand.
Emiko

Makes: about 12 bars of brittle

Ingredients

  • olive oil, for greasing
  • 1 pound (500 grams or 2 1/2 cups) sugar
  • 1 pound (500 grams) whole almonds
  • 1/2 lemon, optional
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. Grease a marble slab or piece of parchment paper with olive oil (marble is ideal, as it's heavy and won't move. Parchment, on the other hand, tends to slide—pull yourself a generous-sized piece and dampen the flat surface, such as kitchen counter, with a wet hand before placing the parchment down; this will help keep it in place).
  2. Place the sugar in a wide, flat skillet in an even layer and turn the heat on low. Watch it carefully but don't touch it or stir it. As soon as it starts to melt, you can help it along with a gentle shake of the pan here and there, paying close attention that it doesn't become too dark (which means it will taste too bitter). It should be a medium or dark amber color, like maple syrup or a little darker, but it shouldn't go dark enough that it begins to look black!
  3. When it begins to melt and you can see the caramel forming around the edges, you can give it a gentle stir with a wooden spoon to help it along. As soon as it has liquified completely and it is dark amber in color, tip in the almonds. The almonds will cool down the caramel and make it harder to work with (smaller nuts such as pine nuts or seeds such as sesame seeds are decidedly easier to work with), but don't lose focus! Keep it over the low heat and mix to combine until all the almonds are coated, then tip it out onto your prepared surface.
  4. Now work quickly. I find the easiest way to flatten the top and reach the desired height (it should be the thickness of about 1/2 inch) is to place another oiled sheet of parchment face down on the top of the almond mixture and use a rolling pin to roll it to the right height. When doing this with smaller nuts, it's easy enough just to use the pressure in your hands (dampened with water) or a lemon half to push it out to the right size and height. If using the parchment and rolling pin, once you have reached the desired height, you can now rub the lemon half over the surface to add shine and a touch of flavor and to even out the brittle along the way. Let cool slightly. While the brittle is still warm, cut into pieces to serve (I find a large, heavy kitchen knife to be the best for this task). I like large bars for giving away as gifts, or small squares for serving with coffee at the end of a meal.
  5. This makes a great edible gift: Wrap pieces individually in cellophane or parchment paper and tie with string. Keep any leftovers in an airtight container (preferably separated in layers with parchment paper to avoid sticking) and store in a cool, dark, dry place. Note that if you live in a warm, humid climate you might find this torrone is always a little bit sticky—nothing wrong with this (licking fingers is always a good thing if you ask me).

More Great Recipes:
Candy|Italian|Almond|Make Ahead|5 Ingredients or Fewer|Serves a Crowd|Halloween|Christmas|Easter|Vegan|Gluten-Free|Dessert

Reviews (17) Questions (1)

17 Reviews

Tina May 8, 2018
I was able recently to purchase edible rice paper (for making Nougatine) on Amazon.
 
fen1027 December 5, 2016
This is lovely and the lemon adds a subtle touch. Did anyone else end up with the brittle being a wee bit sticky? Any comments on how to reduce stickiness?
 
Salvo P. July 11, 2017
you should be careful with the quantity of the honey :) reduce the honey a little bit for less stickiness
 
Ghazzzit April 9, 2016
I didn't have a full pound of almonds on hand yesterday so I mixed in some seeds to make up the difference. Really delicious and so simple! Thanks!
 
ozbaker December 22, 2015
Gisela from Australia beat me to it, but she is almost correct. 450g (actually 452.8g) is the equivalent of 16 oz., so 8 oz would be approx. 225g. But for a recipe like this one 500g will no doubt work too. I see that it has already been changed to 500g.
 
Author Comment
Emiko December 23, 2015
Thank you for noticing this typo!! I always work in grams and then add the conversions in imperial measurements so grams are always right in my recipes! :)
 
david September 18, 2015
I am going to assume the almonds are toasted, and salted from a can.
 
Author Comment
Emiko September 19, 2015
Hello! No, no, the almonds should be plain, whole, raw ideally. Though if they are toasted (and still plain, not salted) that's ok too. After all, for a sweet brittle you want them plain.
 
Mark P. September 9, 2015
Try Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Easybake-Edible-Paper-White-Sheets/dp/B005BB85UA/ref=pd_cp_325_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1HQH8AEND809G8X1C35X
 
Author Comment
Emiko September 9, 2015
Great, thanks!
 
Mark P. September 2, 2015
I have seen this in Liguria with Rice paper rather than parchment paper, edible & protective
 
Author Comment
Emiko September 9, 2015
If you know where to get this rice paper outside of Italy, this would be really useful to have a link or similar here. I talk about using ostia in my recipe/article for torrone (sardinian nougat) and there were many questions about where to get it! In my experience, it's hard for most to find so I have specified using parchment paper as best alternative.
 
Tina May 22, 2018
You can buy edible rice paper on amazon.com.
 
Jennifer T. August 27, 2015
Do you rub with the lemon rind or the inside of the lemon?<br />
 
Author Comment
Emiko August 28, 2015
You rub with the cut side of the lemon, sliding it all over the top -- you'll see when you do this why but basically the lemon juice gives the brittle a nice shine and it also lends a tangy lemony flavour. It's also optional!
 
Gisela P. December 22, 2015
As a happy user of Food52 from Australia, I'd like to point out that 8 ozs is not equivalent to 500 grams. 8 ozs is about the same as 250g. Merry Christmas from Australia
 
Author Comment
Emiko December 23, 2015
Thanks for pointing out! It was a terrible typo on my part. Fixed now! 500 grams is the correct measurement!