Torta Imperial

Satisfyingly chewy nougat replete with whole, darkly roasted marcona almonds

It seems almost inevitable that Os de Balaguer should have become home to one of Spain’s finest turrón producers. Situated in the mountains of Catalonia, it’s surrounded by groves of the indigenous marcona almonds—and, where those end, vast acres of uncultivated land, alive with the sorts of herbs honey bees dream of: wild, heady rosemary and resonant thyme.

It was only a matter of time before someone put almonds and local honey together, added egg white for texture and colour and, in the case of the Torta Imperial style of turrón made by Alemany, sandwiched it between two wafers “so it doesn’t stick,” says David at Brindisa, who grew up on this delicacy every feast day and holiday. “When we have local festivals in the villages someone always appears selling turróns,” he smiles. “It used to be just at Christmas, but it’s so popular now it is sold all year round.”

Today, Alemany is in the hands of its fifth generation—though they still make their turróns by hand, using local honey from local bee keepers. The almonds are darkly roasted, yielding a deep, brown-butter flavour which proves the perfect foil to the herbaceous honey and crystal meringue. “The Torta Imperial is the most traditional turrón,” says David.

Distinctly regal
It’s not called Torta Imperial for nothing: there’s something distinctly regal about its marble whiteness, studded with golden almonds and cloaked in a delicate white wafer. You could wash this down with a cuppa, but because it’s Friday, and this looks celebratory, we’re going with Brindisa’s recommendation: a glass of their Casta Diva Cosecha Miel dessert wine.