That's Nuts: Torrone, the Italian Nougat Confection

That's Nuts

A weekly dose of nutty history, pop culture, and recipes from Lee Zalben, aka The Peanut Butter Guy.

Note: Lee Zalben, a.k.a. "the Peanut Butter Guy" is the creator of the Peanut Butter & Co., a New York sandwich shop with a national line of nut butters. Every week he'll chime in with some nuttiness.


[Photographs: Lee Zalben]

While I was in Alba for the White Truffle Festival this year (don't ask what The Peanut Butter Guy was doing at an Italian Truffle Festival), I had some time to indulge my sweet tooth with one of my favorite European confections. In Spain it's called turrĂ³n; in France it's called nougat; and in Italy it's called torrone (pronounced TUH-ro-nay).


Torrone is a soft nougat made from honey, sugar, egg whites, and roasted nuts. The nuts vary from region to region, but usually it's almonds. One of the best Italian Torrone makers is Sebaste, which uses nocciole or hazelnuts, which makes their torrone very special. Sebaste's factory happens to be located just outside of Alba.

The torrone comes packed in clear plastic to keep it soft. Some if it is cut by machine, some cut by hand, and then there are gourmet flavored varieties, like Stracciatella (a little like chocolate chip), Cioccolato (chocolate), Limone (lemon), and Ciliegia (cherry).


It was impressive to see that the Sebaste trucks also sold a variety of candied nut bars made from walnuts, sesame seeds, peanuts, and hazelnuts.


I was also fortunate to find a nut vendor just off of Via Vernazza. Fresh chestnuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, and yes, even peanuts (and some pretty big ones at that) were all for sale. The Italian word for peanut is arichidi (pronounced ah-ri-SHE-de), and the Italian word for peanut butter is burro di arichidi (which means butter from peanuts). Anyone else have a favorite international nutty confection?


Seriously Italian: Chestnut Honey
Seriously Italian: Fig and Almond Cookies
Seriously Italian: Walnut Bread from Umbria