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“Smell of torrone, the white veil that envelops it. Crisp grains rain on the clothes at the first bite. And again, the childhood comes back” (Fabrizio Caramagna)
November, the month of the torrone, the month that make us children again. The typical Italian sweet appears in the fairs, in the markets, on the tables of all the Peninsula, in its endless versions. From the Sardinian torrone made of toasted almonds to the Sicilian torrone with pistachios. There is who prefers the almonds torrone and who loves the torrone with Piedmontese hazelnuts. Today the merit of the igp label is of the Bagnara’s torrone , the Calabrian sweet of which today we find out the secrets.
Italian Bagnara’s torrone: sweetness with Igp label
We are in Bagnara Calabra, a small town in Reggio Calabria’s province, located at few kilometres from the Strait of Messina, in a coastal area called Costa Viola. To the west is wet by the Tyrrhenian Sea and it is located in an inlet among the overhanging hills on the sea. Here citrus fruits and mulberry cocoons are cultivated, the swordfish is fished and the torrone is produced. The confectionary tradition has been brought here from the Spain , by a noble woman and in the years the original recipe has gone through big changes thanks to the ingredients of the Calabrian land: the orange blossom honey and the spontaneous almonds.
The history of the torrone
From where does the history of this torrone start? From the trades of the maritime centre of the same name, very operative during the ‘700, when the spices shops arise , that connected the traditional production of local almonds and honey with the sugar and the drugs from the outward. The very experts in the preparation of sweets were the monks of Bagnara’s abbey.
In the half of 1800 the first the first torrone factory was born, thanks to Francesco Antonio Cardone , who took the old monk’s recipe , made some changes and made it famous. From that moment on, as for the Sicilian torrone recipe, also the one of Bagnara’s torrone has been transmitted from father to son. From 1846 Carone’s family makes a specialty of it and becomes official supplier of Royal House of Savoia. The Calabrian torrone arrives also in America: until the 30’s , the ocean liner Rex transported many tons of Calabrian Bagnara’s torrone for the bistros in New York. Today the torrone procedure isn’t the same for every labs, many bakeries have industialized the production, other workshops continue to produce the made homemade torrone, as once.
Ingredients of Bagnara’s torrone
This handmade torrone is obtained from the cooking and the manufacturing of honey, sugar and unpeeled and toasted almonds, cinnamon and cloves and with the covering of sugar grains or bitter cocoa. According to the tastes it can be white torrone, in the Martiniana’s versione, or it can become chocolate torrone, covered with bitter cocoa, in the version of roasted glazed torrone. The shape is the one of the rectangular parallelepiped with rounded edges. The ruffled surface is brown colour , covered with sugar grains in the Martiniana’s version. The glazed torrone presents a shining, smooth and polished surface of dark brown colour.
Even the tastes are different, although both the consistencies are crisp and friable thanks to the right toasting of the almonds and to the high temperature of the sugar mass. The bitter cocoa balances the sweetness of the texture and the brulè perception gives the bitter touch with a light spiced aftertaste.
How is the torrone made?
The torrone recipe starts with the cooking of the honey, of the sugar and of the unpeeled almonds, with direct flame at an initial temperature of 160/220° C mixing mechanically the mixture until it reaches the albumen in slow cooker and the sugar mass presents a vitreous consistency that as the glass fractures with the pressure. In the Roasted glazed version there are also vanillin and or essential oils of citrus fruits. The mixture is poured in specific shapes to make it cool until the rigth temperature that allows its manipulation. After the portioning in pieces , to obtain the Calabrian little torrone , it proceeds to the frosting of the granulated sugar earlier melted in water and essential oils and then cooked at temperature 110/118°. The right mix of ingredients of the torrone guarantees its unique organoleptic features.
The torrone has storage time of a year , but is recommended to consume it within three months from the packaging to appreciate better the organoleptic qualities. It is recommended to preserve it in dry places, so that it doesn’t absorb the humidity that would make it soften too much causing the melting of the frosting and the formation of craks , but also a worsening of the special inner crispness. From November until the end of the Christmas festivities , it is habitually consumed in each part of Italy. The perfect combination? Torrone and wine.
The sweetness of the sugar, the bitter touch of the almonds, the chocolate frosting. A crispness that conquers the palate , born from the love story between honey and albumen. And if everyone is a better person on Christmas, it’s because of the torrone, to the sweet that reconciles every people.
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