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Great post. This is a great time of year to eat and cook in Spain. What is available in the markets and pastelerias is of the very best quality.

I have the strength and fortitude for those sweet treats! But this year I think I have really overdone it on the turrones and mazapanes and mantecadas and polvorones... I'll need a year to recover.

I wonder, is there a relationship between turron and halva? They seem quite similar in terms of consistency, though not in composition. It seems that there is more experimentation taking place with turron these days with interesting variations.

I was very happy to discover the mantecadas made with olive oil (instead of lard as the name--enlarded ones--would suggest).

Oh and I almost forgot the guirlaches--almonds embedded in carmelized sugar (very similar to a mexican candy made with pecans). And the almendras garrapiñadas (individual marcona almonds covered in a crunchy carmelized sugar).

. . . .

Turron is usually translated as "nougat," and some is very much like what I've come to know as nougat, or at least the hard nougat, but I've seen "turron" that appears to be more like nut brittle and "turron" that's more of a soft paste, although moister than halva to my thinking. I have also seen a whole range of other candies sold as turron that are variations of the ones I've described and some that seem unrelated. Butterfly mentions experimentation in his reply to the Christmas bounty thread, but it seems "turron" has long been a loosely used term. Are there any strict definitions and what is the range of products that carry this label?


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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The translation as 'nougat' always makes me smile. It's just one little tiny example of the French ethno-centric syndrome that afflicts the gastronomic and culinary language worldwide. French production of 'nougat', a local delicacy from the southeastern part of the country, never was but a tiny fraction of the 'turrón' production in Spain, and for good reason: the Arab tradition of almond-based confections is overwhelming here, while in France it's a bit marginal next to other confectionery traditions, which include the use of butter, whipped cream and other, more northerly delights. Almonds (particularly marcona almonds) are crucial to a good classic turrón or to most north African and Middle Eastern sweets.

That said, all the halvas, nougats and turrones in the world have (or had - more on that later) some basic points in common.

The American Heritage Dictionary definition of nougat is simple and clear: "A confection made from a sugar or honey paste into which nuts are mixed."

The Real Academia Española gives a somewhat more prolix definition - but not drastically different, when you analyze ir: "Dulce, por lo general en forma de tableta, hecho de almendras, piñones, avellanas o nueces, tostado todo y mezclado con miel y azúcar." Translation: "A confection, usually in the form of a tablet, made of almonds, pine nuts, hazelnuts or walnuts, all of it toasted and mixed with honey and sugar."

Turrón originated in southeastern Spain, and the classic forms are the 'soft turrón' from Jijona and the 'hard turrón' from Alicante. The ingredients are the same: almonds, honey and egg whites. But in Jijona they soften the almonds with water, then the mixture is ground while undergoing the cooking process, which gives it its golden color: it's a semi-hard, homogeneous paste. In Alicante, the whole almonds are mixed with the honey-and-egg-yolk nixture, which is then cooked dry and hard. It's brittle and the taste and texture turn out to be entirely different from Jijona.

At the same time, in medieval Spain, Toledo was a stronghold of Arab and Jewish culinary traditions, but it seems that it was in a convent of Catholic nuns that 'mazapanes', these small morsels of ground almonds and sugar were developed. In more modern times many varieties have been developed; particularly delightful are 'mazapanes' that are filled with 'cabello de ángel' (strands of candied pumpkin).

Likewise, the variety of turrones has grown exponentially. Some, like the great 'turrón de yema tostada' (caramelized egg yolk and ground almond turrón), are now considered as quite traditional. In the past decade, chocolate has made big inroads: this is not really turrón, but a tablet the shape and size of turrón, usually with a hard chocolate cover and softer chocolate inside, plus some filling of nuts or fruit. The top Swiss chocolate makers are now producing some very good stuff called 'turrón'; as I mentioned, the chocolate-and-pine nuts 'turrón' made by Neguri in Madrid is very good.

Otherwise, look for coconut turrón, hazelnut turrón, coffee turrón, strawberry turrón, pine nut turrón, and of course the classic 'guirlache' - similar to Alicante turrón, but made with caramelized, very dark sugar, and whole almonds, and usually cut thinner than regular turrón.

Not to mention the immense collection of mantecados, mantecadas, suspiros, marquesas, yemas and the zillion other sweets (eggs and/or almonds being frequent ingredients) eaten by Spaniards at Christmas/Epiphany time...


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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Not to mention the immense collection of mantecados, mantecadas, suspiros, marquesas, yemas and the zillion other sweets (eggs and/or almonds being frequent ingredients) eaten by Spaniards at Christmas/Epiphany time...

Among that vast collection, we probably should pay some attention to polvorones, already mentioned by butterfly. Those who haven't smashed a polvorón in their palm to try to infuse some solidness to the otherwise dusty like cake (that's the root of its name, pólvora or powder, which comes from polvo, the Spanish term for dust) made of flour, fat, sugar and cinnamon, don't know what Christmas in Spain are.

And those who haven't been challenged to say "Pamplona" or "Zaragoza" while eating a polvorón don't know how life is in Spain :smile:.


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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I'll strongly rebut that these horrid things can be tied into our fine Christmas traditions, Pedro! To me, dusty, gaggingly mouth-drying polvorones are an absolute abomination, really the pits of the pits of Spanish confectionery, and I absolutely refuse to eat them! :angry:


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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Come on, Víctor! After all, is December 28 :wink: . Everyone should try one of those polvorones today. :biggrin:


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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I think polvorones are disgustingly tasty--kind of like raw chocolate chip cookie dough--but with the added bonus of being made with lard. They make me ill everytime I eat them, but I keep coming back for more...

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I would like to add a comment regarding Turron and Halvah from a middle eastern point of view. In Lebanon:

1- Halvah (aka Halawa), is made among other things with sesame paste (tahine) and is usually studded with pistachios. It also comes in other variations such as plain, chocolate and almond. It tastes very sweet and has a crumbly texture not a chewy one. This is not usually considered a "dessert" but is used more like a jam or preserve. A very traditional use for it is mashed up with a ripe banana and spread on pita bread.

2- Turron is known as Noogah (from the French Nougat). It is I believe made in two variations. A white one made with eggwhite and sugar and is very dense and chewy and usually filled with pistachios. the other variation is much softer and has a light amber color, almost see through. It is also very chewy. It is again typically studded with...you guessed it....pistachios. Both of these variations are sold in small single serving packages shaped like a log. If you visit a Lebanese home after a wedding or any special occasion, these nougats will be offered as part of a candy assortment that includes bonbons, candied almonds and caramels.

Elie


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Among that vast collection, we probably should pay some attention to polvorones, already mentioned by butterfly. Those who haven't  smashed a polvorón in their palm to try to infuse some solidness to the otherwise dusty like cake (that's the root of its name, pólvora or powder, which comes from polvo,  the Spanish term for dust) made of flour, fat, sugar and cinnamon, don't know what Christmas in Spain are.

I spent many many Christmases when we lived in Spain eating as large a number of polvorones as possible. I bitched loudly this Christmas because our relatives in San Sebastian failed to send the polvoron allotment. Turron we had plenty of (both types) from tienda.com. But no polvorones. :angry:

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I just want to add that polvorones along with turron duro y blando are the taste of my Spanish Christmas!

Currently I purchased some polvorones and mantecados online (Polvorones y Mantecados)and although it is not like being at home with my family, it really brings back great memories.

Viva los polvorones!!!!!!!!!!!!

Alex

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Interesting topic, this. I now live in Madrid but I'm originally from the Philippines where we also have turron and polvorones. Our turron is (relatively) similar to the hard turron you get here. Except that instead of almonds, we make them with cashews, and they're shaped like tubes, about the width of two cigarettes, wrapped in rice paper wrapper very similar to the stuff that's around the hard turron here.

Polvoron- different matter entirely. Polvoron is one of the many things I was surprised (but shouldn't have been) to find in Spain. But back home, turron is toasted flour, powdered milk, sugar, and butter, mixed together till it adheres ever so slightly. It still crumbles into powder when you put in your mouth. I think it's delicious, and a few years ago, some crafty chef got the idea of mixing it with crisp puffed rice and stuffing it into barquillos (which are exactly what they are here). Good stuff. When I saw Spanish polvoron about a month ago, I just had to try it. And I gagged. Sorry, not for me!

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a Venezuelan friend also living in Madrid just a few days ago. I had brought her a Philippine-style "ensaimada" and told her it was nothing like what you got here in Spain. She called me the next day and said they had exactly the same thing in Venezuela, except they called it something else, which I don't remember right now.

Eating in Spain, for someone from a distant ex-colony- is fascinating. I keep discovering things I've always thought of as native to us, but which I then learn originated in Spain. Sometimes (as in the case of barquillos, turron, yemas, and churros) they're exactly the same thing, or pretty close to what we have back home. Other times (as with polvoron, mantecado, ensaimada, and longaniza) they're entirely different.

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Hi. I will be arriving in Barcelona on October 5th and staying there for a week. I plan to bring back some goodies including turron, olive oil in metal containers-due to the fact that I will be continuing my trip to Paris and glass is easy to break, and saffran.. Suggestions on where I can purchase the best turron and the other goodies?

Thx

Alida

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Hi. I will be arriving in Barcelona on October 5th and staying there for a week. I plan to bring back some goodies including turron,  olive oil in metal containers-due to the fact that I will be continuing my trip to Paris and glass is easy to break, and saffran.. Suggestions on where I  can purchase the best turron and the other goodies?

Thx

Alida

I haven't seen any high quality EVOO in metal containers, at least in the usual retail outposts...


We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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I just remembered there's a store in the new Mercat de Santa Catarina which sells mostly olive oils and vinegars. You might want to try there. I walked by and was in a hurry, so I didn't go in, but I noticed they had a somewhat large selection.

Then again, most good oils such as Dauro, etc,, come, as far as I know, in glass bottles.


We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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Last year I've done a "homemade" blind tasting of turrones and orxatas. Planelles Donat was top in all categories. They are the best and they have vacuum packed turrones for taking.

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Last year I've done a "homemade" blind tasting of turrones and orxatas. Planelles Donat was top in all categories. They are the best and they have vacuum packed turrones for taking.

Thx-will certainly add it to my list of places to visit!

Alida

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Hope this isn't too late!

I'm pretty sure the Vila Viniteca grocery store (opposite their wine shop) on C/Agullers in the Born had some non-glass containered (?) olive oil. Or try Formatgeria La Seu on on C/Dagueria in the Barri Gotic. And while you're there try her new cheese ice-cream! I also second the suggestion of the olive oil store in santa catarina market and Planelles Donat for turron.

For something a bit different try Caelum on C/Palla in the Barri Gotic near Pl Pi. They sell sweet things and other delights made by monks and nuns in Spain and other European countries. I think that includes turron.

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Hope this isn't too late!

I'm pretty sure the Vila Viniteca grocery store (opposite their wine shop) on C/Agullers in the Born had some non-glass containered (?) olive oil. Or try Formatgeria La Seu on on C/Dagueria in the Barri Gotic. And while you're there try her new cheese ice-cream! I also second the suggestion of the olive oil store in santa catarina market and Planelles Donat for turron.

For something a bit different try Caelum on C/Palla in the Barri Gotic near Pl Pi. They sell sweet things and other delights made by monks and nuns in Spain and other European countries. I think that includes turron.

Many thx for the suggestions!

Alida

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I've always been curious about the origin of this sweet too. There's vague references to it being Central Asian on wikipedia but that doesn't seem likely to me. ˇhe Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweet gives the best explanation: it is the melding of Southern European and Moorish(Arab/Berber) traditions. 

 

Either way it is delicious.

  • Haha 1

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@shawarma_prince 

 

I lived in spain for two years , 1960  and 1961

 

I I love Turon.

 

I don't care for Martzipan

 

my sister sent me some nice stuff many many years ago.

 

I look at stores that import from Spain.

 

of note via google :

 

https://www.tienda.com/food/turron.html

 

https://www.amigofoods.com/turrones1.html

 

etc

 

Ive never gotten anything from these vendors

 

but the best I can offer.

 

a lot more expensive than in Spain !

 

 

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