"Torrone" Nougat is a traditional Christmas dessert that boasts very ancient origins. It may have been invented in China - where almonds also originated - yet the recipe closest to the modern version comes from the Arab world. The "torrone" nougat known today is actually a variant of the famous "cubbaita" or "juggiolena", an Arab dessert made of honey and sesame, now known as "halva".
A popular base for "halva" is without doubt sesame paste, processed in accordance with precise kosher or halal rules and served after meals instead of desserts. It is very often enhanced with dried fruit, mixed whole or cut into small pieces.
Traditional "turun" nougat made in Spain dates back to the XVI century. In Italy between 1100 and 1150, Gherardo Cremonese translated "De medicinis e cibis semplicibus" by Abdul Mutarrif, a doctor from Cordova. The book praised the virtues of honey and an Arab dessert was mentioned: "turun".
However, people in Cremona claim that nougat was invented here in 1441 during the wedding banquet of Bianca Maria Visconti and Francesco Sforza; its shape resembled the Torrazzo bell tower of the city's cathedral, hence the name "Torrone".
Torrone is still popular today, especially during the Christmas festive period and at other times of year, with new stories and traditions. By way of example, the longest "torrone" nougat in the world was made in Mazzarino (Sicily): it was certified by The Guinness Book of Records at 1004 metres long.
[Source: Teatro Naturale]