Friday, March 28, 2014

There's a Nougat in Town - The Daring Baker's Challenge March 2014

I am not going to lie, it is sticky and gooey to make....and a little sweet...ok more than a little, but really the nuts cut the sweetness!  Really!  Just eat a little bit at a time...
I think I actually love it.  And my friends do too.  And my colleagues...I saw you sneaking it, Flemming, Nancy and Robert.  And I heard you were sneaking it too Rick when I wasn't home.  Camera Guy told me.
So I was with my friends on our evening out to see Sandra Shamus, and went for dinner at Pi-Tom Thai Restaurant, next door to the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. When I walked in, Pat commented that Leslie had let her have a piece of the nougat I had given her and she loved it.    In fact one day Leslie called me from the car, and told me she had to toss the little bag of nougat pieces to the back of the car because she couldn't stop having a piece or 2....  Well I had a bunch in my purse, and after dinner, pulled out my little baggie of these snow white treasures... and even though it probably wasn't exactly the proper thing to do in a restaurant,  I did pull it out - hey it's just candies - I never said I was a proper girl!  I was able to grab a quick photo before it vanished before my for Patrice, one for Jane, one for Leslie, one for Pat and one for Ramona...oh yes, then one for me....then another round....ok and just one more....

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.

A little about Nougat 
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

Here is the recipe: 
I need to emphasize 2 important items - a good candy thermometer and  edible paper (wafer paper) 
I found the edible paper at the bulk barn in a corner...hidden...and it is important because parchment would stick too much.

4 sheets edible wafer paper, 8x11 inches (20x28 cm)  It is optional but I think VERY necessary

For the Meringue:

2 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ cup (60 ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon (3 gm) cream of tartar

For the Syrup:
1½ cups (360 ml) (500 gm) (18 oz) honey (preferably light in color and flavor)
3 cups (720 ml) ( 600 gm) (21 oz) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 ml) (170 gm) (6 oz) light corn syrup
½ cup (120 ml) water
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped 
(Thank you Carl for the vanilla you brought me from Tahiti!)

Add -ins:
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (25 gm) (1 oz) cocoa butter, melted (see Recipe Notes)
5 cups (1.2 litre) (680 gm) (24 oz)  mixture of  toasted whole unblanched almonds and pistachio nuts (don't toast the pistachio nuts)

Recipe Notes:
Edible wafer paper is nice to have if you’re giving nougat as gifts as it helps with the stickiness issue.
However, it’s not essential. If you can’t find it, grease the pan and then line it with parchment paper.
Grease the parchment as well.

Fat (cocoa butter in this case) is added to nougat to give it a shorter texture and cleaner bite.  The recipe will still be good without it- just chewier. Any fat added to nougat should be one that is solid at room temperature. 
Place the toasted almonds and pistachios in a heat safe bowl and put in an oven at 250°F until needed.
Line the bottom of a 9x13 inch (23x33 cm) pan with wafer paper, cutting it to fit. You can put
plastic wrap or parchment under the wafer paper just for extra insurance  to get the nougat out of the pan.   You won't be putting this pan in the oven...

Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar for the meringue in a 4.5 or 5 quart
(about 5 litre) mixer bowl fitted with a whip attachment but do not begin whipping.
Heat the honey in a small saucepan or in the microwave until nearly boiling
Combine the remaining ingredients for the syrup (sugar, corn syrup, water and vanilla bean)
in a 2 quart (2 litre) saucepan.
Bring the sugar mixture to a boil and then lower the heat and boil for 3 minutes, covered.
Remove the lid and attach the candy thermometer. Continue to cook uncovered on high heat without stirring until the syrup reaches 290°F
 When the sugar mixture reaches 290°F , start whipping the egg whites on high speed and move the sugar mixture off the heat.
Slowly pour the heated honey into the sugar mixture. The mixture will foam up initially.
Put the pan back on the heat and continue cooking until the mixture again reaches 290°F

Remove from the heat and use tongs to take out the vanilla bean pods.
Slowly pour the hot syrup into the whipping whites by letting it run down the inside of the
mixer bowl. Don’t pour it directly on the whites or they may collapse.
Add the cocoa butter and whip JUST until the mixture is smooth again. Do not over mix. If
you have a 4.5 quart (4.5 litre) mixer like I do, you may need to initially lower the speed of the mixer while pouring in the cocoa butter as it will try to slop out. 
Remove the bowl from the mixer and dump in the hot nuts from the oven. Mix quickly with a
heat- safe spatula until the almonds are evenly distributed

Immediately pour the hot nougat into the prepared pan, on top of the wafer paper. 

Cover the top of the nougat with more wafer paper and press to smooth and even out the nougat.

Let the nougat cool at room temperature until just warm to the touch, about 45 minutes. Don’t let it go too long or it will be very difficult to get out of the pan and difficult to cut. You
want it to still be a little flexible when you remove it but not so soft that it loses its shape.
Pry the nougat out of the pan with a spatula and dump it out onto a cutting board. Trim the
edges and cut the nougat with an oiled knife into the size pieces you want. 
Wrap the nougat individually or store at room temperature in an airtight container. The
texture of the nougat will soften a bit after a few days, especially if you have added dried fruits in with the nuts.
There is one person who may not have loved it...but that's ok....Camera Guy... 
Until we bake again


Unknown said...

For the record....Camera Guy did like the nougat. He was just pacing himself.....unlike some of the other chug-a-lugers who were eating them like popcorn.

Anonymous said...

I love nougat, but I like a firm chew - not soft and marshmallowy, but not crunchy either. What was the final texture for this recipe?

Penny said...

The texture was not too chewy. I believe the cocoa butter keeps it from being too chewy and achieves a cleaner bite. It was not crunchy either and definitely not marshmallowy. The abundance of nuts also made it quite delicious.

Rebecca said...

Thanks for trying the challenge this month! I'm glad you like the nougat as much as I do.

creampuff said...

You know I often make torrone/nougat at Christmas but this year I didn't. This looks gorgeous!

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