My most favorite part of going to the Italian Feasts growing up was visiting the candy cart. The Italian candy cart that is. You know the one that had those huge blocks of nugget, torrone, and nut candies. The man that worked the cart would hack at the candy of your choice with a very large knife, and then weigh it on the scale that hung off the carts canopy. I loved getting some torrone from that cart, along with the block of nuts that was coated in a caramelized sugar. I would savor them and eat them bit by bit – trying to make them last as long as I could because I knew that the chances of finding those candies the rest of the year were slim to none. Sadly, I have not been to an Italian Feast to get those candies in a very long time. My sister recently went to an Italian Feast with her husband and their daughter, and I responded with “Torrone please!” She assured me that she was getting some and it would be in the mail the next day. Two weeks have gone by and no package from my sister. This is not a guilt trip to her; but my mouth was watering and could already taste the candy. But I am a resourceful person! Into the kitchen I headed to satisfy my taste buds. Toasting nuts and cooking sugar is pretty simple, and within an hour I had the candy I was longing for. I know I no longer have to wait for the candy cart at the next Italian Feast; but this was a little too easy. I hope making this candy does not become too much of a habit! Maybe, I will mail some to my sister as a joke!?!
Mixed Nut Candy
2 cups of sugar
Few tbsp of water
1 tsp of corn syrup
About 3 cups of mixed nuts, toasted
First, in a very clean heavy bottom pan; place the sugar adding a few tablespoons of water mixing it to the consistency of wet sand. Add in the corn syrup and place over a medium to low heat.
*At this point you have two choices while cooking your sugar. You can tent your pan with tightly wrapped plastic, and poke it with a whole. Or you can stand over your pan with a clean pastry brush in a glass of water and constantly wipe your wet pastry brush along the inside of the pan it wipe away any sugar crystals that might form. In my opinion I like to tent the pan with the plastic. It lets the condensation drip down the sides and will wash away the sugar crystals.*
Meanwhile, lay your nuts on a sheet pan and toast them in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes and set aside to cool. I toasted a mixture of whole almonds, sliced almonds, pine nuts, and walnuts. Any mixture you like would be fine; use your own taste preference to make your decisions.
Next, you want to check on your sugar cooking. Keeping an eye on your sugar because you are looking for it to caramelize. I usually judge it by the time the cooked sugar starts to turn to a “honey” like color. At this point you need to pull your pan off the heat and carefully remove the plastic wrap lid if using. Easily pour the toasted nuts into the sugar and stir it all together well.
Finally, have a sheet pan ready and line it with parchment paper. Carefully pour the sugar and nut mixture onto your pan and place it aside to harden and cool. Once it is cool you can break it apart into pieces and enjoy. (Keeps well when wrapped in plastic wrap or in an air tight container for about a week.)