Caltanissetta Torrone

Ark of taste
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Caltanissetta Torrone, called turruni in dialect, is a type of hard, crumbly, sweet nougat paste in varying flavors. It can also be covered in chocolate. It is a sweet product, considered typical of the city of Caltanissetta in central Sicily, especially when production uses almonds, which are cultivated in surrounding area. Traditional torrone, or bloc, is prepared with honey, egg whites and sugar or glucose syrup. Workers mix the ingredients together in a copper pot, similar to those used in ancient times, and, in the final phase of cooking (which lasts eight hours over a low flame) they add Tuono almonds and Sicilian pistachios. At the end of the cooking, the paste is spread in telai, wide wooden frames with a rectangular shape. The torrone is then stretched and worked with rolling pins while in the frame. The workers then spread additional specially selected, finely chopped Sicilian pistachios over the surface of the blocks of torrone. The frames containing the torrone are placed under a press (historically, a manual press, today a hydraulic one) that evens the surface of the torrone and ensure that the pistachios are firmly attached to the surface. When the torrone has cooled, the workers extract if from the frames and cut it into pieces of 50, 100 or 250 grams. This last phase is possible thanks to a tool called the taglierina. For over a century, for many reasons, Caltanissetta has been considered a place of torrone production. Beginning in the 1800s, the historic businesses of Caltanissetta have indicated different variations on their torrone with different names of members of the royal Savoy family: Elena, Iolanda, Umberto and Margherita. By that time, there were many operations connected to the production of this sweet, already considered a rooted tradition. Over time, some older companies have ceased production, and newer ones have come about, but it is the particular methods of artisanal production and tools used that create the differences between one type of torrone and another. Artisanal Caltanissetta torrone continually risks being lost in the face of industrial torrone production made with low-cost ingredients, creating a widespread, generic-tasting product that is becoming associated with this typical, traditional sweet.

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