Uncovering The Legends & Traditions Of Italian Nougat
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Sugar, honey, roasted nuts, whipped white eggs and a little something special like almonds – these are the ingredients that make up the sometimes chewy, sometimes crunchy texture of nougat, one of the more popular lines of wholesale sweets available to retailers. There are many different varieties, but this article will be focused specifically on the history of torrone, more commonly known as Italian white nougat.

The Legend of Nougat in Italy

Nougat is famous for the colourful stories that weave through its origins. Legend has it that it was created for the wedding of Francesco Sforza to the lovely Bianca Maria Visconti, in Cremona, at the height of the Renaissance. The story goes that the couple was presented with a nougat cake moulded into the shape of the Torazzo – Cremona’s distinctive bell tower. This was how the Italian word for white nougat, torrone, was born.

This isn’t the only tale about nougat's origins, though. Another version is pretty similar to the aforementioned example: that a nougat cake was formed to take the shape of a bell tower. The tower in this version of the legend, however, represented the strength of one particular Italian city that had valiantly resisted a siege as feudal wars boiled across the land.

Still another legend claims that nougat dates all the way back to Roman times, when Latin authors Livy and Martial wrote about it. They referred to it as cupedia, and claimed to have first found the sugary sweet in the Sannio region of old.

The Reality Behind the Legend

It is actually quite difficult to establish the veracity of the origins of what is among the best selling wholesale sweets on the market. The first documents referring to torrone as we know it today were found, surprisingly, in Renaissance Spain – and not in Italy.

Researchers postulate that the sweet itself was most likely based on nougat recipes already in use in Egypt and North Africa. This recipe could then have migrated to Sicily, where versions in the Abruzzo, Calabria and Sardinia regions have been identified.

Documents show that nougat actually arrived in Italy in the 16th century - which is pretty late as far as its actual existence goes. It was at this time that the aforementioned legend of Sforza’s nougat came about. Cardinal Hipolito d’Este, a member of one of Renaissance Italy’s powerful families, noted that torrone was served (along with 99 other dishes) during a banquet dated to 1529.

An interesting side note would be the parallel evolution of nougat in France, where Provencal Nougat de Monetlimar grew to become the type that most of us today are familiar with.

The Legacy of Italian Nougat

One nougat, produced in Quaranta, Caravaggio, provides an amazingly delicious take on the traditional white version and is available in the UK through one of the top wholesale sweets companies.

This particular Italian confectionery making family pioneered a method in which ribbons of pasticceria crème is run through their nougat – resulting in a deliciously marbled filling that is both visually appealing and gastronomically appetizing. The traditional recipe is further enhanced with the addition of fruit, resulting in a range of light nougat that is able to preserve both moisture and softness. Another side effect of this process is that it gives the nougat an exceptionally long shelf life – a great bonus for retailers ordering large quantities of wholesale sweets.

The wonderful legacies and legends (whether true or not) of nougat live on through its enduring popularity.

Angelina Moufftard works for HF Chocolates, suppliers of high quality wholesale sweets to the retail trade and others who wish to purchase wholesale quantities of chocolate and confectionery. Renowned since 1957, we've sourced the best suppliers from France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Belgium, the USA and UK. Our great tasting and beautifully packaged products also represent excellent value for money.


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