Thursday, January 3, 2013

Nougat with Pistachios & Dried Cranberries



Most of us know nougat as that ivory-colored layer of fluffiness in snickers & milky way bars. Almost marshmallow-y, but a bit thicker and more spreadable.

I am here to tell you that there is another kind of nougat.

One that is light, yet solid, and incredibly sweet. One that slowly melts on your tongue like a cloud of whipped honey. One that is tricky to make (especially the first time) but is oh so lovely and delicious when you get it right.

The first time I had this type of nougat was when I was studying abroad in Paris in 2007. There are many little candy tents stationed all over the city, especially near the metro entrances. I, being a long-time lover of any and all candies, frequented these stands often and finally decided to try the little white square that had almonds visible from the sides. It was so neat and clean and dainty-looking, just holding it made me feel like I was someone special. Then I ate it, and felt like a queen (only someone of a high-ranking monarchical authority would be allowed to eat such delicacies, of course).


I continued eating it while I was in Europe and when I got back to the states I couldn't find it anywhere at a reasonable price (my addiction did lead me to spend $12 on a 5-inch piece of it at a snooty coffee shop. The grip of my addiction was almost crippling.) So, I generally stopped eating it. Then, a few months ago, my parents came back from a trip to Greece and brought some back with them, being entirely unaware of my affinity for the treat. Of course I ate it immediately. Then I realized that I could probably try making it myself.

So I did, with little success. The first recipe I used had an abundance of errors in it, the heating method was incorrect, the measurements were off (they converted European grams to American cups but did not do so correctly), and the mixing time was too short. On top of this I over-beat the egg whites (my bad). In the end it was quite beautiful but the texture was far too soft and gooey. Still tasty, but just not quite right.

I learned from my mistakes, however, and this time I was able to make it without much difficulty. Egg whites beaten to perfection, sugar and honey heated just so, and with everything measured on a kitchen scale, I was able to conquer the nougat beast. And I am very happy I did so. Mmmm mmmm.



Note: Do not try making this on a humid day. It won't set quite as firmly as it should. The drier the atmosphere the better. You will also need a stand mixer to make this recipe.

Ingredients:

4 Egg Whites
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 and 1/2 Cups Honey
3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 and 1/2 Cups Pistachios, shells removed
1 Cup Dried Cranberries
1 Tablespoon Water
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Cream of Tartar
Wafer or Rice Paper, enough to line and also cover a 9 x 13 inch pan


Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with wafer paper and set aside. In a medium-large and thick-bottomed pot, heat the sugar, honey, and water over medium-high heat until the temperature reaches 315 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring every five minutes and then more often once the temperature exceeds 250 degrees. (The mixture will get very foamy and bubbly on top the hotter it gets, this is supposed to happen so don't get scared.) Once it reaches 315 degrees Fahrenheit turn off the heat and allow it to cool down to about 300 degrees while you start beating the egg whites.


Beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar with a whisk attachment at medium-high speed until firm peaks form. Then slowly drizzle in the melted sugar-honey mixture in a thin but continuous stream (still beating at a medium-high speed) until all of the sugar-honey mixture has been added (it should take about 4 minutes to add it all, just to give you an idea of how slowly it should be incorporated).

Continue beating the mixture at medium-high speed for 15-20 minutes until it has roughly tripled in volume. It will start out very golden in color but as it is whipped it will begin to turn ivory. Then add the powdered sugar a little at a time over a period of about two minutes and continue mixing until it is fully incorporated. Then mix in the pistachios and dried cranberries at a lower speed. 


Scoop the mixture out into the baking pan (you will probably need another person to hold the bowl while you scoop out the nougat, as it will be very thick, sticky, and heavy). Distribute it as evenly as you can. If you have some extra pistachios or dried cranberries you can sprinkle a handful over the top of the nougat. Place a sheet of wafer paper on top of the nougat and roll a rolling pin over the top to help smooth the sheet of wafer paper onto the nougat Allow to cool for 3 hours, then flip the pan over and unmold the nougat onto a flat surface to continue cooling for another 3 hours. Then cut the nougat using a well-greased knife into 2-inch wide strips and then into 3-inch long pieces. (You may need to re-grease your knife from time to time during the cutting process). Your nougat is complete!




31 comments:

  1. This looks fantastic! I bet the homemade version of nougat is just divine!

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    1. Thank you Sara! It is especially tasty :)

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  2. This looks fantastic! I bet the homemade version of nougat is just divine!

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  3. Your nougat looks perfect and the colours are simply gorgeous! Living in the UK, this is the kind of thing I expect to see when I hear nougat, not the nasty chocolate bar fluff. Yum.

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    1. Haha, thanks! And I agree, the candy car filling should be renamed, it is not true nougat!

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  4. Never heard of nougat or ate it. These looks so pretty and you made it sound so doable! :) I don't have a huge sweet tooth but looking at the pictures, I am so tempted!

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    1. Thank you very much Kankana! It is a tricky recipe but if you have the patience and someone to lend a hand with the scooping and spreading of the nougat it is a wonderful treat :)

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  5. Real nougat!! It's SO AMAZING. I've never tried to make nougat either--but I'm thinking that will have to change!

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    1. Thank you Eileen! Please do give it a try!

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  6. with the glorious color scheme and my penchant for sweets during that time, these would be perfect for christmas! very lovely, eva!

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  7. How important is the rice paper? Can you make it without?

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    1. I've heard of people substituting it with a sheet of thawed filo dough, but you will need one of the two to make it; it is too sticky otherwise and will just get stuck to whatever surface it's on if there's not some sort of edible barrier like rice/wafer paper or filo.

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  8. The first time I tried nougat candy was around six years ago, when my (now ex-)boyfriend's mom brought some back from Italy. To say that I was instantly addicted would be an understatement... (I also found some over-priced bars in a cafe near where I worked after that! I'm pretty sure I bought three at once, and then decided that I couldn't do that anymore. It was a good thing I didn't go there very often.)

    I'm so excited to make this. I've gazed longingly at the nougat recipe in Chocolates & Confections by Peter Greweling a few times, but I've never worked myself up to make it. (Perhaps because that book intimidates me a little.) But after this post and all these gorgeous photos, I don't think I can resist!

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    1. It is more attention-consuming then time consuming, the time it takes to prepare it all isn't so bad, it's just that every step has to be done perfectly for it to turn out well, and there's lots of room for mistakes when using egg whites (I am pretty terrible at beating them until they're stiff, I usually end up over-beating them about half the time.) But definitely give it a try, they are soooo tasty and you end up with so many! Definitely at least 100 snooty cafe dollars worth :)

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  9. This inspired me to make my own using your recipe. They came out great!

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    1. Wonderful!! I am so happy they came out well for you!

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  10. I'm pinning this to remind me to make it for holiday 2013. If I eat any more sugar in the near future I will keel over.

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    1. Hahaha. I feel your pain! My holiday was the same way :)

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  11. Looks delicious! I have never used wafer paper or rice paper. Can I sub parchment?

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    1. You could, but if you substitute parchment paper you will have to peel the paper off before you eat each piece since it's not edible. The good thing about rice/wafer paper and filo is that they're edible so you don't have to worry about peeling them off beforehand.

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  12. I just made this recipe last night. Thank you so much for the detailed instruction and photos. I used parchment paper to line the pan and on top to flatten and smooth the surface and it worked quite well. Once the nougat had dried the parchment peeled off easily.
    It's quite a process, but a very impressive result. Thanks again!

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    1. Wonderful! I am so happy it came out for you!

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  13. This reminds me of the Italian candy, Torrone, that my family enjoys once a year at Christmas. I look forward to trying your recipe! Beautiful photos!

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    1. Thank you Patricia! Let me know how it turns out for you :)

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  14. This is a classic middle eastern treat that everyone loves. My mother and I just made it and it was amazing! if you add some cardamom that's been ground up (~1 tsp in the syrup mix), it tastes even more authentic. Thank you for making my mom and me very happy!

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    1. So excited that you guys enjoyed it! And so happy that you guys are happy :) Adding cardamom to it sounds just delicious, it's one of my favorite dessert spices and I can only imagine how heavenly it must taste in this dessert.

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  15. I'm going to try this recipe soon. It looks like the type of nougat I want to make. I tried the recipe by SBS food (video on youtube) for Easter and it was an absoute disaster. I'm no stranger to candy making and working with egg whites. I followed the instructions perfectly, measurements, temperatures and all. But I ended up with a mess that just melted like marshmallow fluff. I'm hoping to have more luck with your recipe. I'll let you know if I do.

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    1. That was a lot like how my first nougat experience went too! So frustrating when you put so much work into something and follow the instructions to a tee and it still doesn't come out. Let me know how these turn out for you :)

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  16. I love nougat and have always wanted to make it. This looks wonderful!

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  17. I'm sure rice paper is ideal, but can I use baking parchment paper instead

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  18. I loved making this and it was fun to eat the rice paper. It turned out beautiful.
    I don't know why I didn't realize this but it has a very strong honey flavor and I was expecting vanilla.
    It was still delicious, but next time I will either use a more tasty honey (we only had cheapo honey)
    or maybe sub something else and some vanilla for vanilla flavor. But thank you for the gorgeous pics
    and description. Everyone loved it at Christmas.

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