Many Spanish sweets, such as turrón de guirlache or Spanish bonbons, are truly easy to make, but others, unfortunately, are not. Spanish hard almond nougat, alas, falls into the latter category. While a turrón de guirlache is so easy to make that I wouldn't bother buying it unless I just happened to be in Madrid walking by Casa Mira, the various types of hard almond nougat (turrón de Alicante, torta imperial de almendras, turrón duro) are best left to the professionals.
Making hard almond nougat involves whipping egg whites to soft peaks, boiling honey and sugar to a hard-crack stage, carefully blending the two together over very low heat and whipping them for a long, long time. Make one mistake and you won't have hard almond nougat but a soft, plasticky paste. If I ever find an easy recipe for turrón duro, I promise I will post it. Until then, I'm buying it.
Here in the U.S. the Spanish on-line food store La Tienda has a good selection of turrones, including hard, crunchy turrones de Alicante. Note that the turrón de Jijona, also available at La Tienda, is soft and a very different sort of candy.
These packaged turrones duros are relatively thin, from half an inch to and inch or so thick. As a result, they're easy to eat. You just break off a piece and munch.
Just so you know: the thin paper on the outside of many turrones duros is wafer paper. You're supposed to eat it with the turrón, not peel it off.
The true old-style turrón de Alicante was made in a thick wheel about the size and shape of a whole manchego cheese. Look at the 6-inch slabs on the top shelf (to the right) in Casa Mira's display window:
Thick wheels of turrón de Alicante are delicious, but they can be a bit difficult to eat. This candy is quite hard and very crunchy. Andrés, my father-in-law, used to chisel it apart with a sturdy table knife and a tiny hammer!
Though it's tricky to make, turrón duro is as simple as candy gets: it should contain nothing but toasted almonds, good honey, some sugar, and egg whites--and nothing else. The flavor and texture is similar to an almond brittle but distinct. And the various types of turrón duro, as well as the products of different stores and brands, are subtly different from each other too.
Turrón duro is tradionally enjoyed during the Christmas holidays and Kings' Day, Día de Reyes, and it is still most popular at that time of year. Esperanza, my mother-in-law, buys an assortment of turrones and we enjoy them through the whole holiday season.