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Nougat


Sweet sticky nougat isn't difficult to make, writes Emma Knowles, but timing is essential to its success.

You'll need

100 gm slivered pistachios 100 gm dried cranberries 50 gm almonds, coarsely chopped 50 gm glacé orange, diced For lining: confectioner's paper 230 gm honey 60 gm eggwhite (about 2 eggs) 380 gm caster sugar 120 gm liquid glucose Finely grated rind of 1 orange and 50ml orange juice

Method

  • 01
  • Preheat oven to 100C. Place pistachios, cranberries, almonds and glacé orange on an oven tray and warm in oven.
  • 02
  • Grease the sides of a 20cm square cake tin, line base with confectioner’s paper, shiny-side down, and set aside.
  • 03
  • Place honey in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When honey reaches 108C on a sugar thermometer (3-4 minutes), start whisking eggwhite in an electric mixer and whisk until firm peaks form. When honey reaches 120C (6-8 minutes), remove from heat and stop whisking eggwhite.
  • 04
  • Stir sugar, glucose, orange rind, orange juice and 50ml water in a separate small saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, bring to the boil and cook until mixture reaches 155C (12-15 minutes).
  • 05
  • Gradually add hot honey to eggwhite while whisking on low speed, then increase speed to high and whisk while sugar syrup cooks.
  • 06
  • When sugar syrup reaches 155C, reduce whisk speed to low, gradually add sugar syrup, then increase speed to high and whisk until combined and slightly cooled (3-4 minutes).
  • 07
  • Add warm nuts and fruit and stir quickly to combine.
  • 08
  • Spoon nougat mixture into lined tin and spread evenly with a hot palette knife. Press confectioner’s paper over nougat to cover and trim to fit.
  • 09
  • Place another 20cm square cake tin on top of nougat, fill tin with weights or weight evenly with food cans and stand at room temperature until firm (overnight). Run a knife around sides of tin to loosen nougat, turn onto a chopping board, cut into pieces with a hot knife and serve. Nougat will keep stored in an airtight container for 3 months.

Note This recipe is based on Greg Malouf's recipe for gaz, the traditional name of Persian nougat. You'll need to begin this recipe a day ahead.


There are many types of nougat across the globe known by various names. There's Spanish turrón, which comes in two versions: hard and brittle blocks heavy with whole almonds (Alicante), and a soft form (Jijona) in which the nuts are reduced to a paste. The Italians take pride in their torrone, a traditional Christmas confection hailing from Cremona in Lombardy, which also comes in hard (duro) and soft (morbido) varieties. And, of course, this being Italy, Sicily, Sardinia and many other regions besides have their own version. And then there's Persian gaz, Greek madolato, Maltese qubbajd and Filipino turrones de casoy. What's common to all of them, including French nougat, is the method of cooking honey and sugar and whisking it with eggwhite.

You'll need pastry weights or food cans, as well as two 20cm square cake tins that fit inside one another; if you only have one tin, substitute a piece of heavy cardboard cut to fit snugly inside your cake tin and covered in foil. An electric mixer with a whisk attachment and a sugar thermometer are musts. Have all your ingredients weighed and ready to go, and your eggwhite on standby in the electric mixer.

Set your oven as low as it can go, chop your nuts and dried or glacé fruit, spread them on a tray and place them in the oven to warm. Warming the fruits makes them easier to fold through the nougat mixture - if they're cool, they'll cause the mixture to seize. The combination of fruit and nuts is wide open, but we find the inclusion of a sour fruit provides a welcome burst that cuts through the sweetness.

Prepare your cake tin by lining it with confectioner's rice paper and oiling or buttering the sides. You can also make life a little easier by lining the tin with a sheet of baking paper before lining the base with rice paper.

If you let the baking paper overhang the sides of the tin, the nougat will be easier to remove from the tin later. Confectioner's rice paper is available from select delicatessens, Middle Eastern grocers and specialist food shops. If it proves difficult to track down, you can still make nougat; use lightly greased baking paper instead (though while confectioner's paper is edible, baking paper will have to be removed). Once all this is done, you're ready to start.

Once the honey is whisked into the eggwhite and the syrup has started cooking, don't walk away: it can be mere seconds between having a syrup that's not quite ready and one that's overcooked. The sugar thermometer is your greatest ally here. Once the required temperature is reached, turn your mixer to low speed and pour the syrup down the side of the bowl.

If additional flavours appeal, such as vanilla, rosewater or orange-blossom water, now's the time to add them.

Increase the mixer speed once again and watch a snowy white, glossy mixture take shape. Stir in the fruit and nuts (a sturdy metal spoon or spatula makes this a lot easier) and tip the mix into your prepared tin. Use a hot palette knife (dip it in hot water then dry it quickly) to press the mixture into the tin, cover it with extra rice paper and then weight it with your extra tin (or cardboard) and some food cans.

Your nougat should set overnight, but this is weather-dependent - humidity or extreme heat will slow the setting time. Cut it into squares or fingers and store them in an airtight container between sheets of baking paper.

If it's very hot or humid, the nougat will soften, so in these conditions, keep it in the refrigerator and serve it chilled.


At A Glance

  • Serves 60 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 60 people

Featured in

Dec 2012

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