There are a couple of reasons for this blog post based purely on nougat.
The first reason is that earlier today I was feeling a little peckish and so popped next door to Cellar & Pantry next to our store here in Red Hill and bought a snack-size pack of the best pistachio nougat I have tasted in a while. Good consistency, the right amount of sweetness and relatively guilt-free - blame it on the innocent whiteness perhaps and the self-talk about the health benefits of consuming nuts.
The second reason is that I have just placed a decent-sized order for various glorious tins of French nougat in the lead-up to Christmas. So it got me reminiscing about a short nougat course I did a few years ago and thought I could share a few things that I have learned.
Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School (Brunswick, Victoria) provides the following background:
"The word nougat has its origins in the Spanish word 'nogado', a cake of almonds and caramel. However, as legend would have it, it was a grandmother in Provence who made the first nougat, a treat for her grandchildren, made out of honey, almonds and eggs. Her grandchildren said to her "Tu nous gate" which translates to "You are spoiling us" and this became the candy's name - nougat."
It is the temperature of the cooking of the mixtures that make the difference between a tender and a hard nougat. In a hard nougat the sugar is a caramelised sugar cooked to a high temperature. In a soft nougat the mixture is soft thanks to the addition of several different ingredients.
There are many recipes for nougat, some quite simple with minimal steps, others requiring every sugar thermometer and kitchen gadget you can get your hands on. And then there is the decorating which I found great fun at the cooking school but since I'm unlikely to ever have gold dust or edible rice paper sitting in my pantry I thought I would share the more traditional nougat recipe.
550g almonds with skins on
300g caster sugar
100g cacao nibs
Toast the almonds in the oven until golden to the core.
Cook the sugar, glucose and honey to 165 degrees until they turn a caramel colour and add the toasted almonds and the cacao nibs.
Mix, then immediately pour and spread onto a lightly oiled marble board or cooking sheet.
Leave to cool then break into large pieces.
Wrap in plastic film and keep in a dry place.
Yum. Make it, break it, then share it or if you can't be bothered with any of the above our French tins should arrive in store and online early November. Just saying (with a mouthful of nougat).
If any of you have a nougat recipe to share or simply want to reminisce about a nougat experience please feel free to leave a comment!
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