Saturday, December 26, 2020


Turrón, a traditional holiday sweet in Spain, is thought to have originated with the Moors who invaded Spain in the year 711. Traditional turrón is made with honey, toasted almonds and egg whites. There are a few theories, some outlandish, about the origins of the name, but it’s generally thought to derive from the Latin torrere “to toast.”

Christian traditions are the central focus of the Christmas holidays in Spain. There is no Santa Claus. Instead, the Three Wise Men deliver presents to children on the Feast of Epiphany.

The primary home decoration is not a tree but a model of Bethlehem depicting the nativity.

The traditional turrón recipe consists of only three ingredients: honey, egg whites and almonds.

For a more complex, modern variation you might want to try Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh's delicious almond and aniseed nougat:

The making of the modern version of turrón or nougat, while quicker to make, is a bit challenging because it requires the precise timing of baking steps. A sweet syrup is boiled and poured  at two different stages of candy development into whipped egg whites. The nuts must be toasted and ready to add to the nougat while they are still piping hot.

Here's a cheeky video of the making of the Ottolenghi/Goh recipe:

Because a rooster crowed the night of the nativity, Christmas Mass is called the Rooster's Mass.

Thursday, January 16, 2020


“God Jul” means merry (good) Christmas in Norwegian. The holiday is celebrated with traditional dishes the entire month of December. “Syv sorter,” in which “seven sorts” of baked goods are offered, is a favorite custom. There are about 20 traditional cookies that families choose from, and at the top of many lists is “nøttetopper,” a chewy, crunchy, gluten-free hazelnut macaroon with a single hazelnut placed in the middle of each cookie.

A Norwegian Santa’s helper (nisse) riding on a marzipan pig

Most recipes list only 3 ingredients: egg whites, hazelnuts and sugar. Something magical happens to those simple ingredients when they are whipped and baked as they have a rich, full flavor. Getting the cookies to turn out chewy on the inside and crunchy on the outside can be a bit of a challenge but gets easier with practice. You can form the cookies with two spoons, although we found it easier to add height by using a piping bag with a large nozzle. The same cookie, Nussmakronen, is made in Germany. The cookies are a bit fragile so a sturdy cardboard box with shredded paper for padding can help protect them in transit. Here are a few recipes: