Torrone d'Asti

The finest hazelnuts in the world come from the region of Piedmonte in Italy. They are the key ingredient to the traditional sweet dessert know as Torrone.
Torrone is made from a few key ingredients {egg whites, sugar} and lots and lots of whole, toasted hazelnuts.
The recipe may seem simple, but it takes commitment to not compromise laborious techniques and high quality ingredients.

While in Asti,Italy last week, I was invited to visit one of the oldest and most regarded artisan producers of Torrone. Founded in the late 1800's, the Barbero family still works out of the original factory making the same recipe created by the great grandfather.

The Barbero family was originally known for making bicycles. The great grandfather was passionate about cycling and was the first Italian to ride in the Tour de France. After the introduction of the automobile, there was an obvious demand for bicycles and a need to diversify the family business. So, Signore Barbero decided to focus on his other passion, Torrone. The three story building was soon converted into a factory producing one of Italy's most beloved sweets.

Today, the Barbero tradition is carried on by the great grandson, Davide. Barbero continues to be one of the world's leading artisan producers of Torrone, staying true to the original recipe and process originally created by Davide's great grandfather.
Even one of the original torrone makers, now eighty something years old and bearing a tilted french beret on his now balding head, remains to carry on the tradition of this artisan made dolci dessert.

Davide and his wife, Tiziana, still work out of the same building. With impressive, ascending marble stairs and floor to ceiling metal windows, the space is not really conducive for food production efficiency, but it is a breathtakingly beautiful space. I am not sure what was more impressive, the taste of the Torrone or the building where they produce this delectable sweet. It felt much like visiting an artist's atelier and a place I could easily make into a home.

The hazelnuts are toasted to a delicate golden brown to release their natural oils and flavorful essence.
Then the hazelnuts go through a machine for size selection and onto a sheeter to be hand selected for each batch.

Rows of antique copper kettles are heated and the egg whites and sugar are blended until they form a deliciously sweet cloud of sweet nougat.

The hazelnuts are added, and added, and added......I couldn't believe how many bowls of freshly toasted hazelnuts were added to this batch.
Once the nougat "dough" is ready {no recipe here, just the careful eye and discerning palate of trusted cooks in white who stir and stir until the texture and taste is just right.

Mounds of nougat are removed from the copper kettles, cut into manageable pieces and kneaded into smooth, giant logs.

The nougat logs are then cut into sections and pressed into wooden molds.

Heavy metal rolling pins are used to smooth out the top and remove the air bubbles for a dense, smooth texture and finish.

Once the Torrone is rolled out into the molds, it rests for about 7 hours to remove any air bubbles and give the torrone is crunchy, dense texture. Then, it is time to enjoy!

To find Barbero torrone, visit

Buon appetito!
copyright 2008 Alisa Barry

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice article. I was abl to buy some torrone Barbero. I have tried many and being a bit of a glutton I like this one the best. Luigi, Endicott, New York