My Nougat Mission
The Christmas season is upon us and that means one thing. It’s time for nougat.
“Nougat, you say?”
In recent years, I’ve become enamored with this strange confection. There are several reasons why.
First, I just like the sound of the word. It’s subtle, with a sense of whimsy and humor associated with it. In fact, I’ve heard David Letterman claim nougat is one of the top-ten funniest words in the English language. After banana and monkey, of course.
Next, I find it interesting how many people have no clue what nougat is. When you ask someone “Would you like some nougat?” and all you get back is a confused look, you know there’s an information gap that needs filling. I’ve tried to fill that gap with my website “What Is Nougat?“.
Finally, for those that are familiar with nougat, most think it’s the filling inside a Snickers candy bar. Although I do enjoy Snickers occasionally for it’s claimed nougatocity, it’s chewy peanut filling isn’t really nougat. At least not in the traditional sense. When you experience REAL nougat, you’ll understand why. It’s just good.
A Season for Sharing
It’s for these reasons I’ve made it one of my missions in life to spread the nougat message. In fact, you might even call me an Evangelizing Nougatologist.
In this Christmas season’s spirit of sharing and bringing joy to others, I share my recent batch of Toasted Almond and Dried Cherry Nougat.
The recipe I used (courtesy of Emeril Lagasse) follows.
Toasted Almond and Dried Cherry Nougat
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
- Pinch salt
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 egg whites
- 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup chopped toasted almonds
- 1/2 cup dried cherries, reconstituted, roughly chopped
In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and water. Cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Cook, without stirring, until the mixture reaches the hard ball stage, 250 to 260 degrees F (This is when a small amount of the mixture dropped in cold water forms a hard ball).
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a whip attachment, whip egg whites until stiff, but not dry. While the machine is running and in a steady stream, add 1/4 of the syrup to the egg whites, and continue whipping until mixture holds its shape. Place the syrup back over the heat and cook until the hard crack stage is reached, 300 degrees F. (This is when the mixture separates into hard and brittle threads when dropped in cold water). With the machine running and in a steady stream, add the remaining syrup to the egg white mixture and continue whipping until the mixture holds is shape. Add the butter, a tablespoon at a time and whip until very thick and satiny. Fold in the almonds and cherries. Press into a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch pan, smoothing top. Let stand until firm.
Turn out of pan, and cut in 1 1/2 by 1-inch pieces. Wrap each piece individually in waxed paper.
Lessons learned with this batch of nougat
I shared this batch of nougat with several coworkers this week. Every time I make nougat, it gets a little better and I learn something new to improve my technique. This time, I learned that the extra effort spent preparing and setting out ingredients before getting started is crucial. The final product came together much more easily and the texture was really good.
Areas of opportunity: I didn’t wrap each piece individually. I just set them on sheets of wax paper. Next time, I’ll make sure to wrap each piece. Also, I’ll probably keep the nougat refrigerated while it’s sitting. After leaving it at room temperature for a while, several of the chunks melted together into a pool. Still edible and tasty, but not so good when you’re trying to share.
Overall I was really pleased. Nougat’s not extremely difficult to make and the time and patience making it can really pay off.
Nougat lovers of the world – Unite!