One of my mother’s friends, a sweet elderly lady who ranks high among the women I aspire to be like, sends a box of turrón over to our house every Christmas. Quite obviously, this sort of turrón is not the same as turon, those banana and jackfruit-stuffed rice paper rolls that are deep-fried with plenty of brown sugar and served as an afternoon snack. No, by turrón, I mean those rectangular slabs of almond nougat that are a specialty of Spain’s Valencia Region. The turrón she sends over is usually the soft kind – the famed turrón de Jijona,
Turrón de Jijona takes its name from Xixona, the town in Valencia where it is made because of all the almonds they grow over there. The dessert is actually a throwback to the Moorish Occupation of Spain because it is similar in nature to halva, a sweetmeat made with nuts crushed into a coarse-textured butter and pressed into molds similar to those for bricks. Unlike Italian torrone and the variant known as turrón alicante – both of which feature a crunchy, meringue-style nougat base studded with whole roasted almonds and are wrapped in edible rice paper – turrón de Jijona is softer, crumblier, and actually tastes like a chewy almond toffee. For this reason, I imagined it would be an excellent choice for adding to cookies and cakes – and about bloody time, too; my dad was asking us to eat up the turrón in the fridge.
This particular recipe is actually a spin on my regular chocolate-chunk cookie recipe, but involves pressing the dough into a jelly-roll tin instead of dropping it by tablespoonsful onto a cookie sheet. The end result: moist, slightly crumbly, sweet bars with hunks of melty dark chocolate whose bittersweet taste is balanced by the rich, nutty caramel flavor of the nougat. Since picnic season is rolling around, these would be perfect to tote along for a summer afternoon outdoors.
Incidentally, because of the amount of chocolate and nougat I threw in here, I just had to give it the name Dos Tesoros – two treasures. The wealth of goodies in each bar makes it a rather appropriate name. 🙂 Oh, and in case you can’t find turrón de Jijona, you can swap it for turrón alicante or Italian nougat; they won’t melt, though, but will soften into unctuous chewiness.
- 3/4 cup salted butter, softened
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 200 grams dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 150 grams turrón de Jijona or almond/hazelnut nougat, coarsely chopped
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees / Gas Mark 4. Lavishly grease a standard-sized jelly roll tin or a lipped cookie sheet.
Beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flavorings, baking powder, and egg; mix until well combined. Add the flour and mix until a soft dough is formed. Fold in the chopped chocolate and nougat, making sure that these are evenly distributed in the dough.
Get your hands wet and press the dough evenly int the prepared baking tin. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the tin in there for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cut into bars. Transfer to a serving plate and leave to cool completely.
Makes approximately 32 bars.