HomeDessertsNougat of Bagnara IGP, Calabrian sweetness

Nougat of Bagnara IGP, Calabrian sweetness

Torrone di Bagnara PGI is today the only product of its kind to obtain the certification of the Geographical Indication. The greatest admirers and consumers are found where it is produced, in Calabria. Rome and Turin follow with significant numbers. Abroad, Calabrian nougats are popular in Europe, Canada and the United States.

Torrone di Bagnara PGI, the winter work of fishermen

The productive period it is concentrated in the winter months, although we try to maintain a certain productive continuity through the use of processed seeds. Production is limited, about 1500 quintals per year by a dozen companies including small pastry shops and industrial firms.

In the last quarter of the year, the operators involved in the production of nougat vary from 5 to 15 depending on the size of the company. 30% of the product is sold through direct sales, 35% through specialized shops and the remaining 35% through large-scale distribution.

In the past, the production of Torrone di Bagnara represented a great employment opportunity for the town of Bagnara Calabra. Until the middle of the last century, operations on raw materials, such as sugar refining, were carried out on site and required manpower. Fishermen also worked there during the winter months.

Torrone di Bagnara PGI, the two coatings

There are two versions of Torrone di Bagnara, different from each other depending on the outer layer:

- Nougat Martiniana has a covering with granulated sugar, a rippled surface and a brown color,

- the Torrefatto Glazed Nougat, on the other hand, is characterized by a cover with bitter cocoa. In this case the surface is shiny, smooth and smooth, while maintaining the dark color.

In preparation cocoa is always used, not chocolate. This precaution prevents any melting of the cover at temperatures above 32 ° C, allowing the product to be consumed throughout the year.

'Pastry chef'and master nougat

The area of production is limited to the municipality of Bagnara Calabra, located in the province of Reggio Calabria. This town is located in the heart of the splendid Costa Viola, on the stretch of the Tyrrhenian Sea in front of the Strait of Messina. An area that also boasts other fine delights, such as the orange of Villa and the swordfish alla Bagnarota.

In the area cited the figures of the pastry chef and master nougat. The first is simply an expert manufacturer of confectionery products, perhaps reinterpretations of the Calabrian tradition. The second has the specific skills to produce a Torrone di Bagnara IGP.

Torrone, the lost etymology

The origins of nougat are lost in time and the very etymology of the word 'nougat' remains debated. According to some scholars it derives from the Latin Torreó, that is to abrustol, or givetoreere', that is toasting, in reference to the treatment that almonds still undergo today.

Other items they attribute the etymology to the Spanish down, a term that appears for the first time in the treaty 'De medicinis et cibis semplicibus'by doctor Abdul Mutarrif from Cordoba (Spain).

A reinterpretation of the qubbayt?

It is probable that nougat has its roots in the culture of the Arab populations, where sweets based on almonds are still offered today, which would have imported first in Spain and then in Italy a sort of ancestor of the product we know today, the qubbayt, a word that has merged into the Sicilian 'cubbaita', sweet made with honey, almonds and sesame seeds.

For others still, however, the tradition of nougat is closely linked to the order of the Cistercian monks, who during religious celebrations used to produce sweets to be distributed to the people, also as a form of expedient to exploit the local production of honey and almonds.

The ingredients of the Torrone di Bagnara PGI

The specification of production of Torrone di Bagnara PGI identifies a series of fundamental ingredients: unpeeled and toasted sweet almonds, granulated sugar, orange honey or clear or Sulla millefiori honey, bitter cocoa powder, cinnamon and cloves.

In addition to these it is possible to add: chicken egg white, albumin, vanillin and essential oils.

The production process

The production process it begins by mixing the sugar mass, that is the granulated sugar and the honey, so that it can accommodate the other ingredients.

In the 'Martinian' version, in which the sugar mass is almost totally composed of sucrose, the preliminary phase is not necessary. Therefore, almonds can be directly added.

Cooked 'a mantle of monaco'

Cooking follows in a boiler on direct heat of the mixture with possible addition of egg white or albumin at an initial temperature between 180 and 200 ° C. This phase lasts for a period of time necessary for the compound, through mechanical mixing, to acquire a shade of brown, known as 'monk's mantle', that is, similar to the shade of the monk's habit.

We proceed then with the addition of egg white or albumin and with a subsequent slow and gradual cooking. Then the natural aromas (cinnamon and cloves) and, in the 'Torrefatto glazed' version, the previously toasted unpeeled almonds, stirring.

The objective of this phase is to obtain a homogeneous mass known as 'cotta', that is the hot and still shapeless paste of the nougat, with a consistency suitable for retaining the other ingredients, but not so compact as to prevent modeling. An addition of vanillin may follow.

The portioning phase

The cooling and portioning phase follows, in which the cooked is removed from the boiler and left to cool, after having poured it into special molds until it reaches a temperature between 60 and 70 ° C.

Portioning it is carried out using knives or mechanically. In the first case, the dough is placed on wooden frames or in material suitable for food use in the form of elongated rolls, which are divided by hand according to the desired size.

In the mechanized processinstead, the dough is placed on the cutter molds, then cut into pieces suitable for placing on the market.

The glazing

The nougats they are then glazed by covering the outer surface with a thin layer of sugar-based glaze. Paying attention to drain the excess sugar, to avoid that the product is excessively sweet.

The passage in sugar follows granulated (partially replaceable with dark sugar). The use of bitter cocoa powder may also occur, which is useful for giving the product its characteristic dark brown color.

Nougat of Bagnara IGP, shape and substance

The Torrone di Bagnara PGI, as reported in the specification, it looks like a rectangular parallelepiped with rounded edges, with a weight between 14 and 35 g. Covered on the outside with a uniform brown color, the consistency must be crunchy and crumbly.

To the taste, the aromas are revealed progressively. The initial sweet volute leaves room for the smoky notes that derive from the almond toasting process, and ends with the perception of the spicier notes. Seeing is believing.

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Graduated in gastronomic sciences from the University of Parma, with a great passion for sustainable development and innovation in the agri-food chain.

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