Turrón is a nougat made of honey, sugar, and egg white and mixed with toasted almonds and other nuts.
Most Spaniards would tell you that Christmas without turrón wouldn’t be Christmas. This special sweet has made its way all the way around the world, most notably in countries that were once part of the Spanish Empire. Here’s a rundown of the 5 countries that have embraced the confection as their own…
The word turrón most likely comes from the Latin word torrere (meaning “to toast”), and experts believe it was invented in Moorish Spain in the 14th century. The story goes that a moorish king, Ali, wanted to please his homesick Scandinavian bride named Ilda. The springtime blossoms of the almond trees in Spain comforted her because they were reminiscent of spring in her homeland, so Ali commissioned a bakery to make a treat out of these almonds.
Today, turrón is usually consumed in the wintertime, when people need a reminder that spring is around the corner. It’s typically made with honey, sugar, egg whites, and toasted almonds, and a few variations exist around the world.
Even within Spain itself, there are several different variations for sugar-lovers to sample. The Alicante variety is brittle and made with whole almonds, while in the softer Jijona variety, the almonds are ground to a paste, and oil is added to make the treat chewier and stickier.
Peruvian turrón is usually soft and sometimes made with anise. In Lima, an anise and honey nougat, Turrón de Doña Pepa, is traditionally prepared for a religious procession that takes place in October, called Señor de los Milagros (“Lord of Miracles”). Legend has it that a woman named Josefa Marmanillo, nicknamed Doña Pepa, created the dessert after a miraculous recovery from illness.
In Cuba, Turrón de Maní is made from peanuts. They’re either ground and pressed into bars or chopped roughly and held together with caramelized sugar and honey.
The Philippine take on turrón is unique in that it is not associated with the Christmas season. It’s usually made with cashews and wrapped in a white wafer, though another variety, Turrones de Pili, is made with the native pili nut.
Puerto Rican turrón has perhaps taken on the most astonishing variety of ingredients: turrón in this country often includes toasted black and white sesame seeds, cinnamon, and lemon juice, but it can also include lime zest, sunflower and flax seeds, orange zest, and toasted coconut flakes.