One of my favorite ways to experience other cultures is through food. Familiarity with different traditional dishes, desserts and drinks can also enrich your experience abroad, because you will have an idea of what kinds of products you should really try while you are abroad.
With that in mind, in addition to the series on books, music and movies, I am going to be doing a monthly post about food in the Spanish-speaking world. Since Christmas is approaching, I decided to start with Turrón de Jijona, a marzipan-like Spanish dessert that is eaten primarily around Christmas, New Year’s and the Three Kings’ Day in Spain. When I lived in Spain, the most famous turrón producer – Casa Mira, located in the center of Madrid – would have hour-long lines of people waiting out in the cold to buy turrón for 43 euros per kilo.
To head off any confusion, there are two kinds of turrón: turrón de Alicante or turrón duro, which is hard, sort of like a peanut brittle, and turrón de Jijona (sometimes spelled Xixona) or turrón blando, which is soft and has a consistency similar to marzipan.
Turrón de Jijona
How to make it:
A lot of people in Spain, probably the vast majority, buy their turrón. Which is shocking, considering how expensive it is and how easy it is to make. I recently made a batch of turrón based on the instructions from El Plato Tipico, a blog about traditional Spanish cuisine. The instructions on El Plato Tipico are extensive, so I recommend reading them, but here is what I did. You will notice that I departed from the instructions slightly, mostly because I didn’t use toasted almonds (I was too lazy to toast almonds) and I greased the loaf pan/mold instead of using baking paper. I don’t remember having turrón de Jijona with whole nuts in it when I was in Spain, plus I didn’t feel like peeling and toasting almonds, so I simply skipped that step. In the end, the turrón I made tastes exactly like I remember the turrón in Spain.
100 g sugar
200 g honey
250 g almond meal
1 egg white
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Grated zest from one lemon.
Put the honey and sugar in a pot and heat on low heat while stirring. Keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved completely.
Beat the egg white.
Remove the honey and sugar from the heat and stir in the beaten egg white.
Return to low heat. Stir continuously for around 10 minutes, until the mixture doesn’t look grainy anymore.
Add the cinnamon and grated lemon zest.
Add the almond meal. Stir until everything is completely, homogeneously integrated.
Pour into a greased loaf pan, and put in the fridge overnight.
Of course, there are thousands of variations on turrón. For those of you who learn from videos, here’s a video about making turrón. Enjoy!