Torrone — Italian nougat — has been made in one form or another since the time of ancient Rome. It’s a mixture of honey, egg whites, vanilla and roasted nuts, usually eaten around Christmas, but can be enjoyed anytime.
2 large egg whites
pinch of salt
150 ml water
120 ml honey
625 ml granulated sugar
1 T vanilla extract
75 g pistachios, roasted, skinned
75 g hazelnuts, roasted, skinned
75 g candied ginger
Line a 9″ x 13″ pan with plastic wrap, making sure there is some excess on all sides. In a large saucepot heat the water, sugar and honey until it reaches 143°C on a candy thermometer. A big pot helps because the mixture will expand and foam. The bigger the pot the less chance of spills. Hot sugar burns are some of the worst.
Meanwhile, beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer until frothy. Turn the mixer to medium and slowly add the hot sugar syrup. At this point add the vanilla extract, and mix on high speed for about a minute.
The next step is to take this syrup and egg white mixture, and transfer it to a double boiler to cook out some of the moisture. (Nougat is great, but it starts to be a pain about now. It firms up and becomes difficult to scrape out of the mixing bowl. It’s also sticks to whatever it touches. Best to work quickly.) Stir the nougat in the double boiler until the mixture comes off the bottom of the bowl easily. Remove from the heat, then stir in the nuts and ginger. Again, work as quickly as possible, because the warmer the mixture is, the easier it will be to stir.
Transfer the nougat to the prepared pan, smoothing it down evenly. Place a piece of parchment paper on the top. Fold the excess plastic wrap over the parchment paper, and leave to cool. I eventually put the pan in the refrigerator to make it easier to cut. A good serrated knife helps. Cut slowly to get cleanly through the hazelnuts and pistachios.