A nutty, nougat-like, traditional Spanish sweet from Brindisa
“Mum likes this one, dad likes this one, I like this one. They’re all different,” says Noa at Brindisa, pointing rapidly at three bars of turrón on the shelf in front of us. Are they different? We peer closely at the ingredients list on the back of each: marcona almonds, egg white, sugar and rosemary honey. On paper, they all sound exactly the same.
We turn back to the front of the bar, and the clear cellophane screen through which we can see the pale confection—and sure enough, there are a few striking variations. The hard turrón is dazzlingly white and shiny—almost laminated, studded with sharp, boney shards of almonds. It’ll break a crown soon as you look at it, if you’ve one going.
The soft turron, Noa’s favourite, is the colour and texture of sun-baked sand dunes, thanks to the almonds being toasted and finely ground. The third, the yema tostada turrón, is similarly sandy, but crowned with a glistening coppery layer: the yolk of the egg, toasted, sweetened and smeared over the warm rosemary honey-almond base.
The sweet spot
“Though they have the same ingredients, they are very different. The experience changes, and you never know which one will be your favourite until you try them all.” It’s the perfect opportunity to satisfy the sweet spot of everyone in the office—those with nut allergies aside, obviously.
That’s just the beginning, Noa continues. Come Christmas there are dozens of varieties, but these three are available at all times of year, for very good reason: not only are they delicious—think halva, but more aromatic, the rosemary honey lending a warm, slightly savoury note redolent of hot lazy summers—they are striking. Sliced and served on a platter, they make excellent after-dinner (or, in Friday feeling’s case, after-elevenses) treats.
“In Spain we serve them like you might serve chocolates, mixing the three types,” says Noa. Fernando, her colleague and a fellow soft turrón fan, recounts their history. “They originate not far from where I’m from in Alicante, possibly as a way to preserve almonds for longer, possibly as a way to use up waste.”
Lost in time
Possibly both, he continues. “It was so long ago—at least the 15th century—that the real story has got lost in time.” It doesn’t really matter. The family behind Alemany, Brindisa’s supplier of turrón, has been making turrón since the 19th century—and they’re doing a pretty fine job.
It doesn’t do to look a gift horse in the mouth at the best of times, let alone after you’ve crunched your way through a bar of hard turrón. Put the kettle on, crack the turrón out, and enjoy.