For my one thousandth post (masha Allah!), I decided to post about an Iraqi delicacy that is a delicacy even to the Iraqis. Still with me? It is a sweet called mina sima, (من السما) which literally translates into from the sky. Historically, this is a sweet referring to one of the heavenly foods Allah sent to Beni Israel after they escaped pharoh by the miracle of Allah. Today, the real mina sima is made using the gum from a specifi tree found in the north of Iraq.
Since you and I are unlikely to get access to that specific tree gum, we will have to made do with the home-made version without it. Now to be absolutely perfect, you can whip out your candy thermometer and use it to obtain the perfect results. Since a cooking thermometer is one of the tools I abhor having to use, I tried and tried again until I got the perfect batch. Do be careful to not over boil the sugar syrup as that will yield a tooth-breaking sweet nugget. What we are opting for is a firm yet somewhat pliable finished result, not far off from a chewy toffee. You will need a cup of sugar syrup for the recipe so try to make this in advance. You can make the torrone plain, or with whatever nuts you like. Pistachio is traditional.
2 cups finely granulated sugar
1 cup honey
1 cup sugar syrup*
2 egg whites
1 Tbsp powdered cardamom
1 cup whole pistachio kernels, optional
about 1 cup cornflour
*To make the sugar syrup, combine a cup of sugar with half a cup of water and a teaspoon of lemon juice and boil for 8 minutes.
Prepare before you start a 10 inch square deep dish with a parchment overhang. Generously sift a thick layer of cornflour over the entire base. Leave form cornflour on the side to top the sweet after it is poured; set aside.
In a large pot, combine the finely granulated sugar, honey, and sugar syrup. Stir to combine then bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for about 6 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg white until just foamy. It is easiest to use a stand mixer for this and the following steps. When the homey/sugar mix is ready, remove it from the fire and slowly drizzle it over the egg whites all the while whisking. After about 10 minutes, the mixture will be thick and would have doubled or tripled in volume. Whisk in the powdered cardamom and the pistachio kernels, if using.
Pour and scrape the mixture into the prepared cornflour-coated dish. Liberally sprinkle the surface of the still-warm torrone with the remaining cornflour, pat it to even out, and let sit for at least an hour to cool. Once cooled, cut into nuggets and roll into excess cornflour to coat the sticky sides.
Serve alongside some bitter Turkish coffee to balance out the sweetness.
صحة و عافية