Welcome back. Today, we’re going to talk about Sicilian Nougat, or “Torrone” – ” Cubbarda e Minnulata”. This is an Italian dessert that is made with honey, sugar, sesame seeds, toasted almonds and orange or lemon zest. It is a very tasty confection and is quick and easy to make. When properly stored, the torrone will keep for about 2 weeks.
A Little History…
My research reveals that the cubbarda was introduced in Sicily by the Bizantines. Their name for this treat was “pastifeli”. Like so many Italian desserts from Sicily, this nougat also has a name given to it by the Saracens, called “qubbayt” in Arabic. The almond nougat, Minnulata, is made all over the island of Sicily. It was originally made with 100% honey as the sweetening agent but when the Saracens introduced sugar to the island, part of the honey was replaced with sugar. This confection is very popular because it is easy to make and takes only minutes to prepare. The recipe that follows is a fairly simple one and there is a variation to it as well.
- 1 1/2 lbs. honey
- 1 1/2 lbs. granulated sugar
- 2 cups sesame seeds
- 1 cup toasted and crushed non salted pistachios and/or almonds
- zest of an orange
- A pinch of cinnamon
Generously oil a shallow pan or marble slab or counter surface. The cooked nougat will be poured into or onto this.
Using a 3 quart saucepan, cook all ingredients over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar caramelizes and the mixture is a golden color (approx 5 to 10 minutes).
Pour the cooked mixture into the oiled pan or onto the oiled marble. Spread the mixture in the pan until smooth and level using an oiled spatula.
Quickly, cut the nougat into pieces 1 inch by 2 inch. Wrap and seal each piece in a piece of waxed paper. Store the nougat pieces in an air-tight container.
Cook the nougat as instructed above but when the nougat has caramelized and has turned the golden color, reduce the heat and add 3 cups of toasted non-salted almonds, zest of an orange and a pinch of cinnamon. Cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Finish the nougat the same way as instructed above.
This Italian dessert can be prepared and, if properly wrapped and stored in an air-tight container, can be kept for about 2 weeks.
This dessert is one I have not tried as yet. It sounds yummy, though….huummm…I wonder if you could add chocolate? We may have yet another variation here!
Come on back for a bit of a change. The next few posts will be on bread puddings. My research has lead me to some interesting history and recipes for bread pudding. I think you’ll find some of them quite tasty. The history is quite varied as well. Come on back and we’ll switch gears.