In preparation for the festive season, here are some tips and suggestions on buying the most famous of Spanish Christmas treats.
In preparation for the festive season, here are some tips and suggestions on buying the most famous of Spanish Christmas treats: turron.
What is turron?
Traditionally, turron is a popular Spanish Christmas sweet made principally from honey, sugar and almonds. Nowadays, a multitude of other ingredients are used in commercial products in Spain and the term 'turron' can often simply refer to a bar of chocolate, nougat, or other sweet available predominantly at Christmas. However, the traditional almond and honey turrons are still accepted as the original and best! Whilst turron is enjoyed in Spain only at Christmas, the more temperate climate in the UK means is can be stored and transported almost year-round and UK consumers are happy to be able to get their hands on this product at any time of the year.
What are the basic types of turron?
Turron de Alicante (sometimes called 'turron duro' or 'hard turron') is prepared with whole chunks of almond and egg white and is cooked until hard and brittle. We have found that this is the preferred type of turron in the UK. Turron de Jijona ('turron blando' or 'soft turron') is a firm paste of mashed almonds and honey - a lot easier to cut up and bite into and a good alternative if your teeth can't take the crunch of the hard turron.
What about the quality of turron?
The quality of Turron de Alicante and Turron de Jijona is regulated by a 'Denominacion de Origen' which only gives its seal to manufacturers using traditional ingredients and production methods - an assurance of quality for the final consumer. In particular, the quantity of almond in the mix is required to be above 60% for a turron to be classified as DO. In addition, genuine turron only uses Spanish almonds rather than cheaper and inferior imports. Real Spanish almonds are expensive and are the main contributor to the high price of turron. Manufacturers of inferior products have therefore sought to manufacture turron with a low proportion of primary ingredient and generally using imported almonds. If you're looking for the genuine article, make sure the turron you buy is recognised by the 'Denominacion de Origen'.
What other types of turron are available?
Torta de Turron: Now becoming popular in Spain, these are essentially the same as the standard Turron de Alicante and Turron de Jijona but are shaped into circular 'cakes' rather than the standard rectangular bars.
Chocolate Turron: Probably the most popular 'alternative' turron in Spain, the traditional chocolate turron is made with crunchy puffed rice and is an essential on Spanish Christmas tables. New varieties of chocolate turron add different ingredients, such as honey and almonds.
Toasted Egg Yolk Turron (Turron de Yema Tostada): A marzipan base enriched with toasted egg yolks. A sweet and sticky variety.
Turron de Guirlache: Less well known than the classic forms of turron but popular in the Valencia region. This is similar to the standard hard turron but caramel is used instead of honey for a distinct flavour.
Sugar Free Turron: A recent addition to the turron lineup - sugar is substituted for various types of sweetner to produce a product suitable for diabetics.