What Is Nougat and How to Make It?
Nougat is a classic treat during the Holidays. These are sweet treats that people love to share with their families and friends. This Holiday season, it would make sense to make your very own nougat candy to wow everyone in your family.
An Overview of Nougat
Making this very delicious treat starts with a general understanding of what it is.
So, what is nougat? The word has its origins in an Old Provencal French term known as “nogat”. This refers to a “nut cake”. It makes perfect sense to call it as such because one of the main ingredients of the confectionery is nuts. From almonds to pistachios and hazelnuts to other tree nuts, this is a sweet that has a very characteristic crunch to it.
The French popularized the sweets in the 17th century. However, this delicacy has been around in ancient Greece since the 9th century. It is also possible that other Mediterranean cultures have their own version of a “nut cake”.
For instance, the Spaniards have their “turron”. The Italians also have “torrone”. There are also similar creations in Africa. The only difference is that they do not use nuts. Africans use fruits instead.
This confectionery is a very popular Christmas treat in many European countries. You can see stores selling different kinds of this delicacy in wonderfully-wrapped gift boxes during the Yuletide season. People give them as Christmas presents or as an addition to their holiday feast.
Types of Nougat
Learning what is nougat made of requires an understanding of the three main types of this delicacy. They are the white, brown, and German “nut cakes”.
The white nut cake uses nuts, egg whites, sugar, and honey. The most common types of nuts used in this confectionery are hazelnuts, almonds, and pistachios. It starts with the whipping of the egg whites before the addition of the hot syrup. The nuts are then added prior to the solidification of the mixture.
The brown variety is almost similar to a white nut cake, with the exception of the egg whites. If you have to make this type of delicacy, you can skip the egg whites. However, it is very important to caramelize the sugar to give the confectionery its distinct brown color. This tends to make brown nougat a lot thicker than the white version.
There is another type of this delicacy that most of us are familiar as candy bars. We know them by their brand names such as Mars, Snickers, Baby Ruth, and 3 Musketeers, among others. These sweets use corn syrup and sucrose instead of honey and sugar. They also use gelatin or aerated hydrolyzed soy protein instead of the traditional egg whites.
A Word About the Nuts
The use of different nuts can provide the delicacy different flavors. For example, almonds have an almost neutral taste. They are not salty, sour, sweet, or spicy. On the other hand, hazelnuts have a stronger nutty, earthy, and almost-chocolatey taste. Hazelnuts can also be sweet, crunchy, and buttery. Pistachios are sweet and savory. Macadamia nuts have a rich, buttery taste.
It is not surprising that many recipes use a combination of different nuts. They provide a very different experience than having a single-nut sweets.
An Easy Recipe Every Home Cook Should Try
How to make nougat? We have this very simple recipe that you can try. It is a single-nut white nougat recipe that utilizes almonds. We recommend trying this one first. Once you have grown confident about making it, then you can start adding other nuts. Good additions include macadamia nuts, pistachios, and hazelnuts. The key here is to toast them to perfection. You can do that in your convection oven. An alternative will be to buy toasted nuts. The only issue with such an approach is that some products may have salt and other ingredients in them.
A very important item in this recipe is the edible rice paper. Most of us know it is as wafer paper. It has a very slippery, waxy surface that will help prevent the delicacy from sticking onto the surface. The edible rice paper also makes it a lot easier to portion the candy. Above all, you can eat the whole candy without removing the wrapper.
- 2 cups of powdered sugar
- 2 ounces of toasted peeled almonds
- 1 egg white
- 2 tablespoons of clear honey
- 2 tablespoons of water
- 1 teaspoon of liquid glucose
- Get ready with a 4-inch by 6-inch baking pan. Line both the bottom and the sides of the pan with edible rice paper.
- Put the egg white in a medium-sized heatproof bowl. Whisk it until stiff.
- Get a small saucepan and pour the liquid glucose, water, clear honey, and sugar. Mix well.
- Turn on the stove and heat the mixture over very low heat. Stir the mixture continuously for 3 to 5 minutes. Check the temperature of the mixture using a candy thermometer. It should read 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat. Slowly drizzle the hot syrup into the stiffened egg white while whisking. Continue whisking the mixture until you get a glossy appearance. You should also notice the mixture start to stiffen further.
- Add the toasted almonds and mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan, spreading it in a uniform manner. Press the mixture so that it forms a uniform layer. Cover the mixture with another piece of edible rice paper.
- Weigh the mixture down by placing a lightweight material. Leave it.
- When it has cooled down, you can cut the homemade nougat into squares. Wrap each square in waxed paper. Place them in a container with an airtight lid.
Nougat is a popular treat during the Holiday season. Making it is as easy as making a syrup and mixing it in whipped egg whites. You can then add your favorite nuts and allow it to solidify.