According to the EL PAIS, the Spanish turron generates about €400 million a year. Not many foods globally have such huge market power.
Are you thinking of a Christmas delicacy? If you have ever visited Spain during the Christmas period, then you know what turron means. It is a meal that all and sundry always look forward to.
You must have heard something special about traditional Spanish cuisine, right? Maybe about their Rioja wines, or classic Jamon Iberico. Well this article samples one of the most iconic Spanish confections, the Turron. If you have not yet tasted the elegant fragments of goodness, this is the high time you did.
Christmas is undoubtedly a magical time, with nativity adorned throughout the cities and eateries serving up classic Spanish dishes. Surely, there isn’t a better time to live. These treats are pleasantly sweet and creamy made with the best ingredients and recipes.
Turron is perhaps the most adored Spanish delicacy that you will ever meet during the festivity. Read on to learn more!
What Is Turrón?
This is a revered Spanish nougat candy, to say the least. We are talking of a 5-century old delicacy that has been the mainstream for happiness and togetherness. So what is nougat exactly? It is a dough obtained through the blending of honey, almonds, sugar, hazelnuts, and egg white.
Turron is enjoyed throughout the year, but most popular during the festive Christmas season. It comes with different types and flavors depending on the recipe and ingredients used in its timeless preparation.
Generally, turron can be soft and chewy or hard and brittle. All in all, it’s the real deal that will leave you wanting more.
The Origin of Turrón
Where did this special Spanish nougat come from? One may be tempted to ask. Turron is among the most popular treats ever witnessed in history, and how it gained popularity is impressive.
You cannot know about turron without understanding the Moorish Conquests in the early middle ages. This meal was primarily influenced by the Moorish settlers who emigrated from the Middle East to Spain and North Africa.
The first Turron was made about 500 years ago in the Spanish town of Jijona. However, although it’s more popular with the Spanish, it originated from the Arabic regions. Thanks to the Moors, the world has a touch of one of the most pleasant dishes ever.
The Moors were very picky about what to eat and hence preferred their native dishes. For this reason, they decided to bring with them a rich culinary heritage. Traditionally, its production was done in small scale mostly domestically during the months preceding Christmas.
Food historian argues that the earliest form of turron was made in the Arabic peninsula. This cuisine would later get popular in majority parts of Spain, Italy, and France, then spread to the rest of the world.
According to a 1582 documentary, the patrons would offer turron to their workers during Christmas. This is why, up to date, this food is more prevalent during Christmas than any other time. And continues to be a customary gift during Christmas.
King Felipe II praised the turron so much that it increased popularity significantly. Demand for this product spread across Spain. It later spread to Cuba, and other parts of the Caribbean and later to the rest of Latin America.
Types of Spanish Turrón
This traditional nougat candy is a mixture of high-quality natural ingredients: almonds, sugars, and honey. They give the body energetic power and are rich in carbohydrates, vegetable fats, and proteins.
Turron can be classified based on recipes and ingredients used in the preparation. There are many types of Spanish Turron;
- Yema Tostada
- Nata Nueces
- Chocolate con Almendras
- and plenty more…
Alicante and Jijona are far and away the two most popular types of turron. The process of preparing them is quite similar.
1. Turron de Alicante
The Alicante turron is a rather hard and thick almond candy with the texture of Peanut brittle. Egg white is the most vital ingredient for hardening this turron.
Also known as turron duro, it is widely preferred in the area of Alicante, Spain. Although it was highly popular during Christmas, it is becoming a timeless product with people eating it throughout the year.
Alicante turron is made using honey from the Valencia community. Roasted almonds create a retro-nasal hint. With a caramelized, crunchy structure, it’s breakable and chewable.
2. Turron De Jijona
This a smooth and soft version that incorporates similar ingredients but a different recipe. Unlike in Alicante, the almonds are ground to form a sweet, aromatic meal. Besides turron de Alicante, this is the most popular form of Turron that you will come across.
Turron de Jijona is easier to cut up and bite, unlike the hard Alicante. During its preparation, the almonds undergo a chopping process to reduce some essential oil before a softening process. A soft texture and golden color characterize the Jijona turron. This type of turron is also be referred to as turron blando.
As mentioned previously, these two types are the best selling turrones in the Spanish market. Because of this most turron manufacturers produce sugarless Alicante and Jijona turron for diabetics and diet conscience turron lovers.
How to Make Turrón – The Spanish Turrón Recipe
How turron is made determines its texture, color, and taste. Unlike many foods that you eat daily, turron is something different. There is a specific recipe that is regulated and followed all over the world.
It is perhaps the adoption of a specific recipe that turron has maintained popularity even in today’s world. First, let’s start with the ingredients;
- Roasted or ground almonds
- Egg white
- Raw Valencian honey
- Extras (Salt, dried fruit)
These are the chief ingredients for the preparation of turron. Although some people may use other nuts, almond is the widely accepted and recognized ingredient.
Alicante Turrón Recipe
This is a simple method on how to make the hard Spanish nougat. It is simple and easy provided you follow the necessary procedure;
1. Toasting the Almonds
When making the Alicante Turron, this is the first step to undertake. Heat about 300g of whole almond nuts in an oven tray. If you can get Marcona almonds even better. The best way to toast the almond is to allow them to warm up while increasing the heat up to 375F.
Occasionally turn the almonds until they turn to a golden brown. This is the right toasting capacity for turron almonds. Heating further is likely to burn the almonds, making them inappropriate preparing turron.
2. Mix the Honey and Sugar
Mix honey and sugar in a separate pan. This should be done over low heat while stirring until all sugar dissolves into the honey. The heating temperature should not go above 250F.
Temperature helps in the dissolution of sugar into the honey. Also, it reduces the moisture content in honey, making the whole process a little bit faster.
3. Add the Egg White
When making a turron, only the egg white is the necessary part. The yolk is not required at this juncture. Smash the egg white until it gets frothy.
After the egg is frothy enough, drizzle it into the hot honey and sugar mixture. The solution will get more whitish, thick, and sticky. This is the base of the Alicante turron.
Heat the white mixture at a low to medium heat while stirring constantly. Ensure that the mixture doesn’t burn because if it burns, it automatically disqualifies for making turron. Heating is all about reducing the moisture of the contents.
When the moisture content is low, it gets hard and brittle upon cooling. Ensure you have a candy thermometer to regulate the amount of heat on the mixture. Allow the candy to cook and until the moisture is eliminated without temperature addition.
To determine whether the candy is ready, pour a small content into the cold water. It should get hard and hold its shape when cool.
4. Add the Almond Toasts
When the candy is ready, it’s time to add the almond nuts. Mix and stir until they are well incorporated into the mixture.
5. Taking Out the Turron
Once the mixture is ready, pour it into the silicon molds. You can use wafer sheets to keep the candy sticky. Keep the candies away from humidity to avoid softening.
This is the ultimate process of making an Alicante turron- anything less than that is a travesty.
Recipe for Making Turron de Jijona
The process of making turron Jijona is a little bit different from that of making Alicante. Turron Jijona should be soft and easy to eat. These ingredients will give you a unique meal;
- 300g of almond nuts
- 200g of honey
- 8 tablespoons of sugar
- A ½ tablespoonful of cinnamon
- 1 egg white
- ½ lemon zest
Get the right quantities of each equipment to get the right candy. Using more or less of any of these ingredients will give you a low-quality end product. After you have assembled all ingredients, follow this procedure below;
1. Grind the Almond Nuts
Before anything else, make almond flour by grinding the nuts. Almond nuts are easy to grind and won’t give you a hard time. Grind till you get the right quantity of flour.
Grinding at home is always preferred to buying almond flow. The almond flour in the local stores can be impure or crushed in the wrong manner.
2. Heat the Honey and Add Sugar
Put your honey into a saucepan and heat under medium to low heat. The recommended heat should be somewhere around 140F. Heat the honey until it gets somehow warm while mixing with confectioners’ sugar.
4. Mix With the Egg white, Cinnamon, and Lemon
Add lemon zest and cinnamon into the pan and remove from fire. Add the egg white into the mixture and stir continuously to ensure it’s well mixed. The mixture will turn white after adding the egg white.
The lemon zest and cinnamon are just additives, and you can choose to include them or not.
5. Mix with Almonds
Return the mixture into the heat and add almonds while stirring. Mix thoroughly to form the ultimate blend. Divide the mixture into lined dishes. Press it down well into the corners and flatten the top and cover.
Allow the mixture to compress and compact in 1- 2 days. It is best preserved into a refrigerator. After that period, your turron will be ready to eat.
This is the ultimate guide to preparing a Spanish Turron. It is a simple procedure that won’t get any challenging as long as you use the right ingredients.
Qualities of the Spanish Turrón
Turron is ranked and priced according to its quality. There are three qualities of Spanish turron;
- Suprema turron
- Extra/Estandar turron
- Popular turron
The turron you make falls under one of these three categories.
1. The Suprema Turron
This is ranked as the best quality of turron available in the market. To get the ‘Suprema’ label, the turron has to contain at least 60% of almonds for the Jijona and 64% for the Alicante. The almond quantity has to meet the set threshold to attain the suprema status. Marcona almonds are widely regarded as the finest type of almonds for making turron.
2. Estandar Turron
This turron has slightly lower quantities of almond but is made using Spanish almonds. The quality of almonds also plays a big role in establishing the overall product quality. This quality of turron is also referred to as “Fino.”
3. Popular Turron
This is an ordinary turron that has low quality and quantity almonds. This is graded as low quality and not often sold in food stores. This type of turron doesn’t have the seal from the regulating body.
Spanish Turrón Regulation
This delicacy is one of the most regulated meals in the world. Yes, there is a board that controls the quality of turron.
The Denominacion de Origen is the body that checks and regulates qualities of turron. It gives the final seal to manufacturers who use the original and traditional recipes and ingredients. This regulation is vital for both quality assurance and culture preservation.
When buying turron make sure the the Consejo Regulador de Jijona y Turrón de Alicante seal of approval is clearly displayed on the package.
Genuine turron is the one made using Spanish almonds and the traditional recipe. Marcona almonds are quite expensive but make the best quality. Was it not for the Denominacion de Origen, the quality would have been highly compromised.
Spanish Turrón Manufacturers
There are at least two dozen turron manufacturers in Spain. From small boutique shops, to mid-size companies to large global exporters. The one commonality is that they are all located in turron country, otherwise known as Jijona, Spain.
- 1880 Turron
- El Almendro Turron
- Sanchis Mira Turron
- Castillo de Jijona Turron
- El Lobo Turron
- El Artesano Turron
Where to Buy Turrón?
Fortunately, turron has become much easier to find in the United States over the last few years. You should be able to find popular turron brands in specialty ethnic food stores, or perhaps even in your local supermarket depending on your location.
Online stores are also a great option. If you are interested in any of the brands above you can shop for turron at our website and find other traditional Spanish Christmas desserts like mantecados, polvorones, peladillas and more.
Other Types of Turrón Around the World
- Cuban Turron – traditionally made with peanuts, it is referred to as turron de mani. There is a hard or duro version. Consisting of ground peanuts pressed into bars and held together by brown sugar. And a soft or blando version of chopped roasted peanuts bound together with honey and caramelized sugar. However, Cubans commonly enjoy both the turron de mani and the Spanish turron version during the holiday season.
- Philippine Turron – two major differences from the Spanish turron, it is not associated with any holiday, so it is enjoyed year round and it is made with cashew nuts, and wrapped in a white wafer.
Peruvian Turron – It is an anise based turron that became popular because of the religious tradition of El Señor de los Milagros. While enjoyed all year round, Peruvian turron, also referred to as Turron de Doña Pepa is mostly enjoyed during the month of October, also known as El Mes Morado or “The Purple Month”.
- Puerto Rican Turron – Puerto Ricans refer to it as Turrón de Ajónjolí, or sesame turrón. This Christmas confection is made with toasted black and white sesame seeds, ground cinnamon, lemon juice, bound together by caramelized brown sugar and honey.
Italian Turron – Italians refer to it as Torrone. Similar to the Spanish turron as it is enjoyed mostly during winter and the Christmas season, different in that a lower percentage of nuts are used in making the holiday confection.
The Bottom Line
As evident in the above, the Spanish turron is a special treat adored by Spaniards both young and old. It is a mixture of tradition, flavor, and adoration. To truly enjoy this classic Spanish pastime, make sure you buy from certified restaurateurs and manufacturers who meet the Denominacion de Origen standards.
Up to this point, you have all the information about the Spanish turron. If you’d like to learn about other Spanish desserts, read 13 Spanish Desserts That Transcend Your Tastebuds.
Or to truly immerse yourself into Spanish culture, read about Spain’s iconic Jamón Ibérico.
Our blog is all about sharing our love of Latin American foods & drinks. We will bring you articles and recipes of the very best Latin American & Spanish cuisine. Amigofoods was founded in 2003 and is the largest online grocery store offering a wide variety of hard to find freshly imported foods & drinks from all over Latin America and Spain.