TORRONE or “CRACK”
WARNING: ADDICTION THIS WAY COMES.
What I’m about to tell you about is called torrone. It’s basically nougat. There are so many different kinds. Soft ones, hard ones, one that taste like white chocolate or honey or nuts or candied fruits. Some are so crisp, they could actually crack your teeth if you’re not careful. Others, like this one, will give you a crazy satisfying mix of chew and crunch. I have no idea where my mother got this recipe. But since she’s been making it, you will find addicts bobbing happily in her wake.
Every time I make it, I love to see people take the first bite. It’s like they’ve had a revelation – all wide-eyed and smiling.
I dare you to eat just one. It’s impossible. I call it CRACK. And no wonder. It’s made up of four things. White chocolate, marshmallow, almonds and rice paper (yes, you can eat the rice paper). The recipe is simple but you’ve got to be fast or risk a “heavy, sticky, I’ve got marshmallow everywhere” kind of mess.
There are no candy thermometers, which I admit, scare me a little bit. There is no soft ball or hard ball stage to monitor. What I love about this is it’s done in one bowl. With a microwave. You need a clean counter and a fast hand.
The key is roasting the almonds. That provides the depth of flavour to cut the sugar.
Try it with salty pistachios or hazelnuts. Use any nut you want and any melting chocolate you want. But I find little can beat the roasted almond and white chocolate combo.
My mother has somehow perfected flattening the marshmallow-chocolate-almond mix uniformly between the rice paper sheets. Then she cuts them up into perfect little diamonds, where the rice paper edge is never cracked and the almonds are perfectly sliced, as though she had some industrial band saw. I’m not so perfect and usually cut them up according to whatever container I’m putting them in.
I give you CRACK.
Here’s your RTI.
Almonds can burn very easily.
So can white chocolate.
Rice paper rips very easily and does not like moisture, hence the dry clean counter. Also, just use the counter. There are those who insist on putting out a cutting board. No need to be fancy. Just. Use. The. Counter. Less chance of things moving around under your hands when you have to do the “squish and spread”.
Cookie sheet, for roasting the almonds (do this ahead of time if you like)
A non-metal bowl
A small bowl of water
- 1 lb white chocolate melting wafers or just white chocolate you’ll melt
- 1-1.5 lb roasted almonds
- 2 x 250g pkg marshmallows, regular or mini-sized
- 4 sheets rice paper, which look like 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper
Yield: Two 8.5×11 “sheets” of torrone, which can make a very generous mountain of a torrone platter
- Clean your counter and let it dry.
- Roast the almonds in the oven for around 5-7 minutes. Babysit them. At 5 minutes, grab one and snap it in half. If the nuts are just turning gold, then pull the tray out. If you have an oven like mine, shake the almonds around the tray a couple of times while you’re roasting them. If they’re still not golden, watch them. Sit in front of the oven and watch them. The moment you walk away is the moment they will burn. Then let them cool. Listen for the awesome little snaps, crackles and pops as they cool. An almond symphony.
- Lay out your two rice sheets on your counter, bumpy side down and shiny side up. Keep two more nearby to lay on top of the mix when it’s done.
- Dump your white chocolate into a bowl. Place in microwave and melt in short 30-second bursts. Give it all a stir and see if the chocolate wafers have started to melt. Return the bowl to the microwave for bursts of 15-30 seconds until everything is just melted and stir it smooth.
- Pile the two packages of marshmallows on top. Return the bowl to the microwave for short bursts of 30-45 seconds on the first go, then 15-30 seconds until the marshmallows have melted or poofed up. You’ll really see a poof if you use the regular-sized marshmallows, not so much with mini-marshmallows.
- This is where the FAST HAND comes in. Really quickly mix the marshmallow and the white chocolate until just blended.
- Dump the almonds into the bowl and mix everything up…FAST.
- Remember that little bowl of water? Now moisten your palms and fingers with a bit of water. Split the marshmallow mix in two. You can dump half the mixture onto the middle of one rice sheet using your wooden spoon or do it the easy way and just split it by hand.
- Here comes the “squish gently and spread” part. Wet your hands a bit again to keep the mix from sticking to your hands and then slowly, stretch the mixture to each edge of the rice paper, flattening as you go. This is not going to be perfect. And since it’s not, make sure that when you’re pulling the mix to the edges that the almonds are relatively evenly distributed.
- Wet your hands again, but not too much and do the same with the rest of the mix on the other sheet of rice paper.
- Now dry your hands. No, really. Take the time to dry your hands.
- With dry fingers, take that sheet of rice paper you put to the side earlier and place it shiny side down on top of your white chocolate, marshmallow and almonds and gently press down. If you really want it to be as perfect as possible, you can place a dry dish towel on top and weigh it all down with a phone book (who has those anymore?). I don’t bother.
- Once they’ve cooled, at least an hour, then you can pull out that cutting board and start cutting them. I usually cut long strips and then cut them into squares or cut them into diamond shapes on an angle.
Congratulations. You’re now either an addict or a dealer. Either way, you’re about to be very, very happy or very, very much in demand.
The torrone keeps well for about a week. I have frozen it in the past. It works. But it’s still best fresh and eaten within a few days.