Saturday, April 3, 2010

Life's little questions

Why do I always decide to try new recipes when people are coming to dinner?    I guess it's because my family is the best test kitchen around!  Or maybe just because I am an idiot, although I prefer the term "optimist."

One of my latest attempts is Torrone, the Italian nougat candy.    My sister and I loved it as children and I brought her samples from every stop when I went to Italy.    I've always wanted to make it myself, and figured it would have to be even better than store bought.    I just didn't figure it was going to be an all-day-deal.     It took hours to boil the half-sugar-half-honey, over the lowest flame possible on my gas stove,  to the desired temperature -- in fact, after the first couple of hours, I was so sure that my thermometer was broken, that I pulled out ice water and double checked the old fashioned way, eating the little samples as I went along . . . soft ball, hard ball, soft crack, hard crack .. . delicious!   But it was supposed to reach 315 degrees, and it just plain didn't. 

Meanwhile, I was afraid to start any of my other tasks -- I did a few things; cleaned the green beans and finished cleaning the asparagus, baked the sweet potatoes for a casserole, and pureed the from-scratch hummus until I was happy with the consistence.    I mixed up the bread dough and set it to rise.   I put together the marinade for the pork loin.    But I didn't make the easter cake because I kept expecting to need my mixer for the Torrone any minute.   I didn't finish painting because I couldn't leave a pot of boiling honey unattended.   I didn't go outside to plant the daylilies, or to take a walk, for the same reason.    I didn't clean the house because -- well, I guess I actually could have done that but I didn't feel like it.

Finally, after 5 hours (seriously), when the syrup was starting to have a burnt sugar taste, I decided to give up and go ahead and drizzle the beyond-boiling, very thick chestnut-colored syrup into beaten egg whites, and flavor it with orange blossom water and almonds.

And then I had to knead it before pouring it into the pan I had lined with edible rice paper.    Now it has to sit for at least 8 hours before I can cut it, but I can already tell that it doesn't taste like the Torrone of my childhood.   For one thing, it isn't as sweet -- how can that be, when it's nothing but honey-sugar syrup and egg whites?     There is nougat on my jeans and in my hair.    And you should see my kitchen, smeared all over with gooey sugar paste.

Which I absolutely do not feel like cleaning.    Especially since I have a million other things to finish up, and a farm in FarmVille that needs tending (gotta keep my priorities in place).

And as soon as I was done, the power went out, which put an end to the idea of vacuuming and baking, since there was no way I was going to whip 12 eggs into still peaks by hand.

If anyone has an Italian grandmother with a better recipe or a few good tips, though, I'd be willing to try this again next year!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Reading this looks like you went to epicurious, which is where I would have gone too. Not sure what else to suggest.