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It was never fancy. Usually, we—my dad and I—would be at the pharmacy or checkout aisle in the supermarket and we'd toss a few glossy rectangular boxes into the red plastic shopping basket or already packed cold metal cart. But somehow, those gold-lettered boxes and cellophane wrapper, along with the excitement of Christmas being just a few days away, made a bar of nut-encrusted, wafer covered, crunchy, pale golden nougat a once-a-year treat that I truly looked forward to.
Turrón de Alicante is a nougat traditional to Spain served most frequently during the Christmas season. Marcona almonds and honey have been used to flavor the nougat for centuries, their presence in the recipe highlighting local ingredients as well as Arabic influence. Turrón de Alicante is a regional specialty, characterized by a firm nougat sandwiched between two wafer sheets. Turrón de Jijona, a close cousin, is chewier and softer than the Alicante variety. Versions of turrón exist across the Mediterranean, including the Italian torrone.
Making turrón at home this morning, as the smell of honey and almonds wafted from my mixing bowl while the whisk whipped egg whites and hot syrup into a sticky cloud of nougat, I smiled as memory took over and deposited me under the blue-tinted neon lit drugstore. It's the small things that make this season special. And delicious.