Nougat…simplified

Dried fruit nougat sliced into blocks

Dried fruit nougat sliced into blocks

My girlfriend is obsessed with the stuff and a lot of fine dining restaurants are finding interesting ways of including fancy dressed-up bits of it in their desserts and ice-cream. Nougat is almost 400 years old and is sometimes referred to as “Nougat de Montélimar” in reference to the region in France that it originates from.

Traditionally made simply with almonds I prefer it with nuts and dried fruit. Modern day recipe’s use glucose syrup instead of honey due to cost reasons. This recipe is for the classic way of making it with honey (and also because finding glucose syrup quickly in Joburg is a mission and a half). Its a bit of a bitch to make nougat due to how sticky it gets so I highly recommend you use a standing mixer like a KitchenAid and not a hand mixer. I don’t know how the French in France 400 years ago managed to make this by hand.

If you can also manage to get hold of a sugar thermometer that would be awesome otherwise a normal METAL stick thermometer will do. Wear an apron and also hand mitts just in case. Working with hot sugar is really dangerous so make sure there aren’t any distractions.

Ingredients:
500g almonds
500g mixed dried fruit
100g pistachios (removed from their shells)
500g honey
400g sugar
4 egg whites
100g icing sugar (sifted)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Rice paper

Method:
– Roast the pistachios and almonds in the oven at 180 degrees celsius for about 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
– Chop the dried fruit into small pieces and set aside.
– Line a deep pan or bain marie with rice paper by spraying the pan with Spray & Cook first. (Its essential you do all this first because once the mix is ready you won’t have time to do it)
– Simmer a pot of water on medium heat on the stove. Place the honey in a bowl and place it ON the pot to create a double boiler.
– In a separate pot heat the granulated sugar on medium heat until 120 degrees celsius
– When the honey has gotten warm add the melted sugar to it and stir with a wooden spoon. Add the vanilla now. Heat until the sugar/honey mix reaches 129 degrees celsius exactly
– Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Turn down the whisking speed to medium speed and slowly pour the honey/sugar mixture into it
– As you add more of the hot sugar the mix will begin to clump up and thicken. Add the icing sugar now
– Once all the sugar syrup has been added stop the mixer and add in all the fruits and nuts and mix well with a spoon.
– Pour into the lined pan (it will be VERY thick, you might need 2 people to do this) and place rice paper on the top of it and flatten/smoothen with a rolling pin and allow to cool overnight. Slice into blocks

Note: You can use any ingredients you like that won’t be affected by heat of the sugar just steer clear of fresh fruits

Chef Lesego

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