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A Sicilian Arab Nougat Recipe - Cubbaita

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Torrone, otherwise known as nougat, is a concoction made from honey, well-whipped egg whites, vanilla, and walnuts or almonds; it's an ancient sweet that requires considerable skill and care to make well, and in the past was also a great favorite among pastry chefs because it can be used as a building material for making fanciful cakes and other such delights. It's made throughout Italy, and Sicily's is especially renowned. Cubbaita is an older version developed by the Arabs who lived in Sicily.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound 2 ounces (500 g) honey
  • 8 ounces (200 g) sugar
  • 1 pound 2 ounces (500 g) sesame seeds
  • 8 ounces (200 g) blanched, peeled, minced almonds
  • Orange zest, thinly sliced (from untreated, organically grown oranges)

Preparation:

Combine all the ingredients in a pot and heat them over a gentle flame, stirring gently, until the mixture is thoroughly mixed. Remove it from the fire and pour it out onto an oiled marble slab and spread it to an even thickness of about a half inch with a spatula, dipping it in cool water lest it stick. When the cubbaita has cooled, cut it into squares.

A note: Cubbaita more resembles a nut crunch than it does what most people associate with the word torrone. But it is a first step in the direction of torrone.

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