Torrone di Cremona is a traditional nougat that can be found in many regions throughout Italy, Spain and France thanks to the Arabs. The word torrone is definitely of Latin origin and comes from “torrere”, meaning to toast. Torrone is made with toasted almonds, honey and other ingredients including egg whites.
Since the 16th century, torrone has been a traditional product of the city of Cremona in Lombardy. It was considered a valuable treat and was often purchased by influential townspeople who would give it as gifts during the Christmas season.
Torrone is also considered to be a specialty of Cremona because some say that its name refers to Torrazzo, the most famous tower in the city. And to celebrate the wedding for Francesco Sforza to Bianca Maria Visconti, the court’s pastry chefs worked together to make a tower-like torrone. In the 16th century, torrone was made and sold by local apothecaries, whereas in the 19th and 20th centuries torrone was made by pastry chefs and candy makers. Eventually, factories were built to make this sweet and torrone became and industrialized product.
There is still a clear distinction between hand-made and industrial torrone in Cremona today. Torrone is made in both small pastry shops, possibly due to the revival of the historic brands, and large industrial production facilities.
Torrone di Cremona IGP
Torrone di Cremona IGP is divided into two types, the classic and the soft, or tenero, based on the amount of egg white used. Both types can dipped in dark chocolate or not, and made with almonds or hazelnuts. Historically, there were many more types and flavors of torrone, some of which are still available today.
Torrone is made using the same ingredients and methods as it was in the past. Egg whites and honey is poured into a large pot and the ingredients are mixed quickly until they have formed a dense, white mixture. This processes is called sbianchimento, or “whitening”. Next, the mixture is heated and mixed slowly. Traditionally, this part could take 8 to 11 hours, depending on whether it was mixed by hand or by machine. At this point, a small amount of sugar can be added, before adding the toasted almonds or hazelnuts – which should be the same temperature as the mixture.
Then, based on the recipe, natural aromas like vanilla or citrus can be added. Then the mixture is stretched by hand and places in wooden molds lined with an edible wrapper that will enclose the torrone. After it cools, the torrone is cut into the desired shapes and then packaged for sale.
Nowadays, modern technology and special machinery are used in order to make a good product – without excess moisture and with just the right crunch.