Origin: Valencia, Alicante and Jijona
Turrón, or nougat, is the mass obtained from the marriage of cooked honey, nuts, generally almonds and egg whites. It's origin it's most likely Moorish. Like many other Spanish foods the Moorish gastronomic heritage is precedent in the case of nougat, since we know that honey and almonds were products typically consumed by them.
However there are contending versions. The one that is most backed up by historians says that nougat was created by the Arabs, who were trying to come up with a source of nutrients that would keep in good condition for long periods, easy to transport by armies without risk of intoxication.
The other theory claims that nougat (turrón in Spanish) was created by a cook in Barcelona whose surname was Turró, who elaborated the candy with raw materials that were abundant in the region, looking for an indispensable source in times of shortage and famine.
However this hypothesis doesn't have many supporters. Fernando Galiana from Jijona, who has dedicated many years to these studies claims that the Spanish word "turrón" derives from torrat, a term that means a mix of honey and dried fruits and nuts cooked directly on the fire to give the mass consistency.
We have historical reference of turrón de Jijona -Jijona nougat- dating back to 1531. A Jijona chronicler claims that there was already knowledge of nougat before the 14th century. We also know from Phillip II's cook that every house in Jijona smelled of honey, since it was elaborated by most families.
There are less references available for turrón de Alicante - Alicante nougat- as the Agramunt archives were destroyed during the Napoleonic wars, so it becomes difficult to document nougat's history in this region before the 18th century, however by that time it was already a tradition, and historians believe that the origin might be as old as Jijona's.
Nougat has evolved with time and now many more ingredients are added, such as chocolate, coconut, candied fruit, coffee and liqueurs. However only the mix of honey and almonds is the essence of the original nougat.
Spain has a very rich turrón tradition. If you decide to travel to Alicante, we recommend a Spanish cooking course to learn how to make the best Spanish nougat!
Both, turrón de Jijona and turrón de Alicante have denominations of origin, the main difference between them is that while Jijona's is soft, the nougat from Alicante is hard. Below the recipe for both.
Ingredients (for 1 tablet of 500 grams or 2 of 250):