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Happy Holidays, the Corn-Quest Tales & a recipe to prepare “Turron de Pepita”! edit

Turr_1 I have never been intimidated by a vegetable in my professional life as a chef. Well, until yesterday. Sadly, today I am even more intimidated. After finishing my personal chef commitments for this year, I visited the farm to see how my roses and other flowers, herb & vegetable gardens were doing. Unexpectedly, I found myself face to face with 1,300 ears of corn (maiz nuevo) that the workers had picked up for me just an hour before.

I was pleased and very happy, but suddenly a thought crossed my mind and my heart was beating so fast that I thought I was having a "corn-attack"!!!

This year my mother's brother and a self-proclaimed master cook, one of the best uncles who have ever walked in this planet Earth...past away. Just by this time of the year my uncle Lucho (Luis Carlos Sanchez V.) would have been cooking his bottom off, non stop preparing tamales and all kind of traditional Panamanian delicacies to share with the rest of the family.

The message couldn't be more explicit. I would have to do in his honor, what he used to do for all of Us. It is a big responsibility because this will be the first Christmas without him, and I will have to take all that emotional distress and sadness that follows a loss, and transform it in the most beautiful holiday our family have ever had. To honor him I will do it. Yes, yes, I will! smile

Now you know the why of my corn-quest. Every time I walk by the kitchen and I see all that corn waiting for me---my hands start shaking. Oh well, there it comes again, all that hand shaking and other reactions related to the corn-attack. Nasty stuff.

So,  I would like you to know that I'll be busy with all that corn for the next few days, and will report on that project later. BUT now, now I have the most scrumptious recipe to prepare "TURRON DE PEPITA", or Cashew Nougat. You will LOVE it!!!

turron nougat turrones panama recetas recipe recipes receta chef melissa panamagourmet gourmet cooking cookingdiva diva delicious cookbook almon almonds cahews cashew pepita pepitas culinary


  • 400 g roasted cashews (not salted)
  • 50 g blanched almonds
  • 450 g light brown sugar
  • 450 g organic honey
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the honey and sugar until boiling point, stirring to make sure all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
  2. Toast the blanched almonds until golden brown. Then, grind them in the food processor with the roasted cashews until they become a smooth paste. Add the honey-sugar mixture and stir well.
  3. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form (punto de merengue / meringue point). Add to the nuts mixture little by little, carefully, making sure it doesn't become a (too) soft dough.
  4. With your hands, shape the dough into a loaf and wrap in parchment paper. Store in a dark place. Do not store in the fridge. Please! If you do it will become a tasty hard piece of turron, but that is not what we want to achieve here. Change the paper a couple of times, or as needed until it dries up a little bit. Then you are all set to enjoy one delicious turron: slice in smaller pieces or wrap with decorative paper or pack in tins (suitable for food), for a nice homemade holiday gift!

For a variation, try this recipe using other kind of nuts including: peanuts, almonds, walnuts, etc.

Enjoy, and Happy Holidays my dear friends and readers. From the bottom of my pan I tell you that it has been a pleasure to meet you during the almost gone 2005. Thank you, thank you and thank you again for such a wonderful time we have spent together. Next year, beautiful things will come to our lives, and with God's bleassing we will achieve all of our dreams and hopes that are close to the heart.

Happy Holidays!

Chef Melissa

We invite you to visit the following related previous articles written by Chef Melissa, and other interesting blogs and websites:

  • by Chef Melissa
  • December 23, 2005
  • 6:33 pm


Picture of kelly kelly said on...
12.24.05 at 12:44 AM |

  I am sorry to hear about your uncle.  I know that working with all of that corn is an overwheling task.  I am sure you will do him proud.  Enjoy the corn delicacies and if you make any bollos - post them - they are my favorites! Oooh - I have another Panamanian corn favorite - I can’t remember what it is called but we put the corn in the Molina (sp?) and fry it.  What is it called?  Pastelitos?  Now you are making me hungry again thinking about all of that corn. 

Picture of melissa_cookingdiva melissa_cookingdiva said on...
12.24.05 at 01:21 AM |

Hola Kelly—-of course we will be preparing bollos de maiz nuevo y mantequilla, y mis favoritos…los bollos de coco, anis y miel!  We will also be making tamales y buñuelos de maíz or Masitas. I’ll keep you posted, my pillow is calling me know smile HUGS!

Picture of Cannella Cannella said on...
12.24.05 at 05:35 AM |

Querida Melissa:

¡cuantas cosas estoy aprendiendo de vuestra forma de cocinar! De ninguna otra forma hubiera conseguido estas clases de alta cocina. Te deseo a ti y a los tuyos unas fiestas y un año nuevo llenos de amor y de paz, y que las ausencias no pesen mucho. Un beso con todo mi cariño, y ... ¡no tengas pesadillas con el maíz!

Picture of melissa_cookingdiva melissa_cookingdiva said on...
12.24.05 at 09:05 AM |

Gracias Cannella!!! Felizmente puedo reportar que el maiz esta bajo control , molido todo ya en mi kitchen aid. Abrazos y Felices fiestas para Uds tambien smile

Picture of owukori owukori said on...
12.24.05 at 09:22 AM |

Gracias - si esto me va pasar. espero que tu passara un feliz navidad y el mejor ano nuevo y todo tu deseos para ti y tu familia. un abrazo besos muy fuerte:)

Picture of owukori owukori said on...
12.24.05 at 09:23 AM |

si es un pied en el arbol - el pied de mi hijo:)

Picture of melissa_cookingdiva melissa_cookingdiva said on...
12.24.05 at 09:29 AM |

Ay que susto!!! es que no habia visto el otro pie smile Abrazos y gracias por la visita!

Picture of dogj dogj said on...
12.24.05 at 09:48 AM |

Yo opino que es una muy buena idea esa de alegrar el ambiente “cocinando”, ya que ayuda a relajarnos y “nos” (me) beneficia a muchos. Estas fiestas son de lo mejor, todo es referente a comida. Espero poder probar todo lo que hagas con el “corn”....

Picture of Don Ray Don Ray said on...
12.24.05 at 10:37 AM |

I will pass on the corn recipes, but I do want you to know that the Pumpkin Cheesecake has been prepared. It looks good. I will try to get a photo, unless I forget and start eating too fast.

Picture of Yovanna .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
12.24.05 at 12:15 PM |

Yum. All that corn and so little room in my tummy! I love corn tortillas with cheese! As a kid I remember getting really excited when I saw my mom shaping yellow/orange disks and dropping them into the frypan. As soon as they were ready, I’d grab the puffiest one there was (burning my little fingers in the process! haha). Yummm!

Picture of Yovanna .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
12.24.05 at 12:17 PM |

P.S. Merry Christmas Melissa and everyone here today:)

Picture of Nerissa Nerissa said on...
12.24.05 at 12:33 PM |

Dearest Melissa,

I am sorry about your beloved uncle. How hard a holiday can be without a favourite relative around. I am sure your desire to honor his memory will be cherished by your own heart, your family’s and even your uncle’s on the other side.  You can take all the sadness and distress and turn it into an act of beautiful remembrance. *HUGS*

Picture of Mona Mona said on...
12.25.05 at 02:55 AM |

Hello Melissa, It’s late here on Christmas Eve but I just wanted to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.
xo from California:)

Picture of Marcela Marcela said on...
12.25.05 at 10:47 AM |

Feliz Navidad Melissa! Y los mejores deseos para el año que está por comenzar… Un beso.
Yo también cociné en estos días en memoria de alguien que ya no está con nosotros: mi mamá. Ella era quien todos los años organizaba y cocinaba para la cena de Nochebuena con mis primos y tíos. Y yo hacía solo de asistente.
En mi caso no era el maíz el que me producía escalofríos, sino la simple vista de la cocina… Pero el momento ya lo superamos y ahora voy a ordenar un poco de fotos para mostrar algo de cómo resultó la cena. wink

Picture of melissa_cookingdiva melissa_cookingdiva said on...
12.25.05 at 11:08 AM |

DOGJ: gracias hermano por haber estado con nosotros ayer, y en especial por haber encendido y atendido el fogon! smile

DON: I am glad to learn that the cheesecake is looking good!!! Hope you had a great Christmas eve and Christmas day today smile

Yovanna: such tasty memories you have! I think your mami was preparing “tortillas”, or “torrejitas de maiz nuevo”—-they are all delicious smile

NERISSA: thanks for your kind words! We all had a great time yesterday. The night before I was grinding all that corn until 3:30 AM!!!

MONA: Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones! I’ll sending you some virtual tamales and other yummy things we prepared yesterday smile

MARCELA: No sabia que tu mama habia fallecido. Cuando se pierde un ser querido es un vacio que no se puede llenar, pero el recuerdo de los tiempos felices que pasaron juntos es lo que nos hace seguir adelante. Entiendo perfectamente lo de los escalofrios al pasar por la cocina—-wow, es algo horrible. Espero ansiosamente tu reporte de como les fue en la cena anoche y los platos requisimos que preparastes.

Abrazos y Felices Fiestas!!!

Picture of Sandra Sandra said on...
12.25.05 at 04:55 PM |

Querida Melissa!!
Feliz navidad y prospero ano nuovo…Que tus deseos se hacen realidad!!
Un abrazo..wink

Picture of Antonio Antonio said on...
12.26.05 at 10:40 AM |

Holas Melissa, pues me alegro que te hayas armado de valor. jejeje. Como le dirían a Spider-man, con el poder (tus ricos platos) viene una gran responsabilidad (hacerlos.. jeje). Muy bueno todo! smile Cuidate mucho.

Picture of Mona Mona said on...
12.26.05 at 02:39 PM |

I’m so sorry Melissa about your uncle. I’m sure he’s up in heaven smiling down on you and excited to see what happens with all the corn:) good luck can’t wait to hear about it.

Picture of sha sha said on...
12.30.05 at 05:47 PM |

sorry not able to pass by for a while too busy with guest and whipping food I would have thought I could never do….

corn? well can i have them boiled? hehe
actually I was in the States when I got acquainted with Latin food when people at work were from Mexico and Honduras.

they would bring me home cooked food and share them to me.. what wonderful warm people!!!

sorry about your tio hope you made everyone happy with yr cooking!

Picture of Kalyn Kalyn said on...
01.03.06 at 08:37 PM |

Great job on this.  I can tell it was a lot of work.  It was fun to see all the new blogs that I hadn’t seen before.

Picture of Nougat Nougat said on...
06.27.06 at 04:32 PM |

Nice recipe, I have to try that out.  Always up for a new taste.  I see that there is cinnamon in it, that’s a little but of a twist there but mmmm I do love cinnamon.  That actually sounds quite good.  I’ll have to take some pics for you when I end up making some!

Picture of Joe Garcia .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
01.02.07 at 11:16 AM |

The recipe for “Turron de Pepita” calls for cashews and almonds in g measurements. What are the measurements
in ounces? The recipe calls for much more cashews (400g)
and only 50g of almonds. Are these figures correct?

    Hope you have a wonderful new year.

Joe Garcia

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