Hazelnut Hard Nougat
Seal of quality
Typical Food Farming Product.
Torrone (nougat) is a sweet that is common throughout various regions of Italy, and was already known as early as Roman times. The distinguishing feature of the nougat produced in Piedmont in the zones of Alba and Asti features the use of hazel-nuts instead of almonds, as used in other regions.
The nougat of Alba and the Langhe consists of a mixture of honey, sugar and glucose and a high percentage of hazel-nuts. The honey must be of acacia or millefiori type. The hazel-nuts commonly used are of the Tonda Gentile delle Langhe variety, which is the only hazel-nut cultivated in the upper Langhe that can boast the denomination of IGP Nocciola del Piemonte.
The hazel-nuts must be toasted before use. The honey and sugar mixture is poured into cauldrons having a double base with slow “bain marie” cooking, and then heated and processed at a temperature of between 70-100 degrees. When the mixture is cooked and has become fairly homogeneous and fluid, the hazel-nuts are then added at the end. The mixture that has become smooth and which contains the hazel-nuts is then shaped by hand in special moulds or dies, that have been previously lined with a thin wafer inside. After cooling the nougat is cut to pre-established dimensions and are then wrapped in materials that will ensure that the intrinsic moisture is maintained, excessive moisture and heat being highly detrimental to this nougat.
It is sold is the classic hard and crumbly texture or in a soft version. The different degrees of brittleness and softness depend on the cooking time and the differing pecentage content of certain ingredients such as the sugar and honey.
Area of production
This nougat is produced in the Alba and Langhe zones, both by specialized companies and pastry shops. It is also produced in a similar manner in the Asti district.
The tradition of mixing together almonds and honey is of very ancient origin and as we have said dates back to Roman times. The name given to it in Italian (Torrone), is probably derived from the custom of forming large sized sweets in the shape of castles or towers using this same sweet mixture. The tradition of the preparation of this sweet was probably introduced into Piedmont as the result of the influence of the lords of Milan the Visconti family. The main ingredient the almond being replaced by hazel-nuts which was available in great quantities at reasonable cost.