Nonno Oreste’s Peanut Torrone
Recipe and photos by Emma Givens as part of her Calabrese Cooking with Nonna series
You’re in the right place for a sweet and protein-rich treat! My Nonno Oreste perfected this simple recipe for peanut torrone over decades of Canadian winters.
This particular torrone, which translates to “nougat” in English, is actually more like peanut brittle — albeit, without the brittle and with sprinkles on top!
A lot of the memories I have of Nonno are from when I was quite small because he developed Alzheimer’s when I was around 10 years old. He passed away a few years later. And the memories I do have are situated anywhere but the kitchen. We’d usually spend our time together watching The Legend of Zorro and Babe for the millionth time. Or we’d play ball in the hallway, and even excitedly count the coins he’d spent months saving up for his grandkids.
Suffice it to say, he was often entertaining me — so I didn’t get to see him cooking much. That’s why, for this recipe, I enlisted my parents in recalling the spirited dynamic of his kitchen.
Here’s the scene: While my Nonna runs across her tiled floor between the pasta pot and the dish where she’s breading fish, my Nonno stands there, stirring the torrone… and teasing her.
Knowing full well that my Nonna was the master chef in their house, my Nonno would put on a straight face and offer her “helpful advice” about cooking. She’d pretend to be annoyed until they both broke out laughing.
When the torrone had roasted to a dark brown, Nonno would scoop it out onto a wooden cutting board, flatten it, and add Cake Mate Rainbow Round sprinkles on top. (The brand never changed – my Nonni were nothing if not loyal). Then he’d reshape the torrone into a big square before slicing it into individual cubes of an inch or two thick.
The outside pieces were always left a little uneven. So, it was up to the family to eat them because the perfect torrone cubes were for guests and gifts. That is, as long as my nonna had her say! (And she always did!)
I hope you’ll smile as much as my Nonno did when you prepare his peanut torrone. I know I smiled because I got to reconnect with his memory while making it!
Nonno Oreste’s Peanut Torrone
Makes 20 torrone cubes
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 1 pound (450 grams) peeled, raw peanuts (unsalted)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- round, rainbow sprinkles (preferably Cake Mate Rainbow Round)
Prepare a large, wooden cutting board by covering it in parchment paper.
Add sugar and honey directly to a wide pot on the stove. Turn the heat on low. Stir constantly until the sugar and honey have melted together into a smooth paste without bubbles.
Stir in the peanuts until every nut is covered by the sugar and honey paste. Continue stirring until both the nuts and paste are dark brown in color.
Remove the pot from heat and carefully scoop the mixture into the middle of the parchment paper-covered cutting board. Wrap the ends of the parchment paper over the mixture to cover it. Take a second cutting board and press down on the mixture to flatten it.
Remove the second cutting board and press on the sides of the mixture through the parchment paper to shape it into a large square torrone. Open up the parchment paper, and add sprinkles to the top of the torrone.
Let cool for 5-10 minutes. While still warm, cut the torrone into individual, 1-inch squares. (It’s important that it doesn’t cool completely, or the torrone will crumble when you try to cut it).
Allow to cool, then serve as a snack or dessert.
Emma Givens is a copywriter, content marketer, and writing coach for entrepreneurs, and the proud granddaughter of 2 Calabrese immigrants who came to Toronto in the 1950s. In her series Calabrese Cooking with Nonna, she reconnects with her grandmother who passed in 2020 by recreating her homemade culinary classics — and reveals a few family stories along the way.