Strange, is it not, that so many countries have a national flower or tree as well as a national animal. By default, each country is also branded with a national dish (which in turn leads to some rather undignified national nicknames; one need only mention sauerkraut, frog legs, or big macs to evoke some wonderfully unfortunate stereotypes). But here is my question: why do we not celebrate a national nut? Clearly there are some obvious choices: pistachios are ubiquitous in Turkish cuisine and in America we have long been in love with the peanut. If Spain were to enthrone a national nut there would be not competition. It is the almond.
Spanish almonds are gorgeous – fatter and more luscious than American almonds, the best are Valencia and Marcona almonds. They need little adornment, simply roasted, salted, and served straight up, they are the perfect accompaniment to olives or a glass of sherry. Although almonds feature in many savory dishes, they really shine as the base to a multitude of Spanish sweets. Swirled into chocolate, pulverized into a paste for marzipan, or baked into the famous Santiago almond cake, this nut is everywhere. However, Spain’s most beloved almond sweetmeat is probably turrón.
This iconic Spanish candy has Arabic origins. Moors introduced almonds to Spain, and along with them a tradition of nut-based sweets, such as halvah and marzipan. In fact, the main ingredients in turrón – almonds and honey – are the base for
many Arabic desserts and candies. As the tradition of turrón grew in Spain, two distinct styles emerged that we find today:
Turrón Jjona (“turrón blando“) – Also known as “soft turrón.” From its groves of almond trees to its mountain wildflowers buzzing with honeybees, the small town of Jijona gives its all to the production of turrón. This rich, dense bar of ground almonds, sugar, honey and egg white is very much like an almond halvah. Slice it into bite-size pieces.
Turrón Alicante (“turrón duro“) – Known as “hard turrón”, the Alicante style is also made of sugar, honey, egg white and almonds, but the almonds are left whole and the mixture is cooked to the brittle stage. Very hard and crunchy, Alicante doesn’t slice – whack it with a big knife and eat the shards.
Turrón Yema – This is rather like turrón Jijona crossed with marzipan. The addition of egg yolks gives these golden bars the texture of a rich almond pastry. Yema tastes especially good with a cup of coffee.
And then there’s chocolate turrón, the product of further edible history. From Mexico to Europe and back again, all the world loves chocolate.
We have several brands of turrón including a whole range of textures and flavors from classic turrón makers Delaviuda and El almendo. Here’s a taste to tempt your sweet tooth: From Delaviuda we have turrón blando and yema tostada as well as chocolate pralines, chocolate covered marzipan, wafer thin almond cookies, butter crisps, truffles, and much more.
From El Almendro we have turrón crujiente and blando as well as chocolate covered crunchy almond cookies, and flavored turrón including chocolate and caramel almond.