The March 2014 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Rebecca of BakeNQuilt. She challenged us to learn to make classic nougat and to make it our own with our choice of flavors and add-ins.
When I saw this month’s challenge I was very confused as whether I should take the challenge or not. The first reason was that we don’t have a sweet tooth so making a candy would not be a good choice and secondly going through all these process and making candy was not that easy. I wanted to keep away from the hassle. Finally when the challenge day came closer I thought why not give it a shot? There is nothing to lose and now I can say that I am very happy that I changed my mind.
It was a new experience for me and now I can look for other candy recipes in future. These nougats make a great gift ideas so maybe next time I will add these in my homemade gift list idea.
Nougat is an aerated candy made from sugar, honey, egg whites and nuts. This type of nougat has been around since the 16th century (according to Larousse Gastronomique). The most well-known nougats are the French Montélimar nougat and the Italian Torrone nougat. Montélimar nougat contains at least 30% nuts and includes pistachios as well as almonds. Italian Torrone and Spanish Turrón are similar, typically containing almonds and sometimes other nuts. The cooking temperature and the quantity of sugar determines the texture of the finished product. Nougat can be chewy, soft and tender to hard and brittle.
The flavors, textures and add-ins may vary, but the process of making nougat is fairly standard. Traditionally, nougat is made by adding cooked honey syrup to egg whites that have been whipped. Nuts are usually folded in and occasionally dried or candied fruits or citrus zest are added. The mixture is poured out onto edible wafer paper and smoothed into a block, which is allowed to set before cutting. Nougat is most commonly white, but can also be flavored. To really dress it up, it can be dipped in chocolate.
As I said above making any kind of candy is not very easy. One has to keep some points in mind before making homemade candy and in this case nougat. You have to have some special equipment and the very first that comes in the list is the candy thermometer. It is very important for the syrup to reach the specific temperature that the recipe calls for failing which may change the texture of the nougat. You will have to keep a very close eye on the temperature while the syrup is boiling. The other thing is the parchment paper which comes very handy when you let the nougat mixture to set in the pan since nougat mixture very sticky to handle. It is recommended to use ‘edible wafer paper’ but parchment does the same job. Other things that you need to keep in mind is the weather that plays a role in making nougats. Humidity softens the texture while dry weather makes it hard and brittle. For that you may need to adjust temperature of the syrup to make it accordingly. I live in a place where it is neither too humid nor very dry and the temperature mentioned in the recipe worked fine for me.
If you keep all the above points in mind, making homemade nougats is fun and you can boast to your family and friends that you can prepare nougats from scratch and make them feel a bit jealous.
Store the nougats in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks. The texture of the nougat will soften a little after a couple of days.