June 22, 2014

Recipe: How to Make Amazing French Almond Nougat



No thanks to mass market candies,
poor nougat has gotten a bad rap.

This recipe is for the real deal,
not the plasticky goo of nondescript flavor
found in popular candy bars.

I'm talking about the classic buttery taffy
redolent with vanilla and toasted almonds;

It needs no chocolate, no caramel.
This sweet confection is perfection
all on its own.


This recipe is my own version of the traditional French Almond Nougat that dates back to the 15th century.  I've adapted my recipe for use in the microwave.  I love using the microwave for candymaking.  It requires a bit of trial and error on the front end to get the timing right, but once proper timing has been established, there are several benefits:

  1. It's quicker than the traditional stovetop method.
  2. A perfect timing formula makes regular use of a candy thermometer unnecessary
  3. No messy pans.  Mix and cook the ingredients in a 1 Qt. glass measuring cup.  It makes it easier to pour the molten candy because the measuring cup has a pouring lip.


Some nougats are made with honey, but my recipe uses only a small amount of real maple syrup.  It does not add a maple flavor to the candy, but rather rounds out the buttery, vanilla flavor profiles.

French Almond Nougat

makes approx. 80 pieces

If you'd rather go old-school and cook on the range, simply use your candy thermometer and make sure your candy hits the appropopriate temperatures.

Nougat consists of two boiled candies coming together:  The first, a marshmallow-like creme made with egg whites, and the second, a buttery boiled syrup.

For the marshmallow creme:
  • 2 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup (not HFC)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
For the syrup:
  • 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon real maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces whole almonds, roughly chopped
Finishing:
  • Fine flake sea salt
  • Wax paper
Prep:  Line a 10x10 straight-sided pan with parchment paper.  Butter the parchment paper and set aside.  You can use another size pan.  Depending on the size, you will get a thicker or thinner sheet of nougat.

Preheat oven to 350 °F.  Spread coarsely chopped almonds on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.

Step 1:  Begin the marshmallow creme by whipping the room-temperature egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until stiff.  Set aside.

Step 2:  In a 1-Qt (4-cup) glass measuring cup, stir together corn syrup and sugar. Now you're ready to microwave.

(Note:  Make note of your timings as you go.  Finding the right timing for your microwave may require some trial and error, but it will be well worth it.  Once you've perfected your formula, you'll never have to use a candy thermometer again.  Your recipe will be customized and foolproof.)

This is the timing formula that worked for my microwave, a 1000 watt LG model.
  • Microwave for 2 minutes, then stir gently with a wood or silicone spoon.
  • Microwave for another 2 minutes, then check with a candy thermometer (if this is your first time experimenting with this candy).  You are aiming at a finished temperature of 240 ° F degrees. 
  • Microwave for an additional 1 1/2 minutes (or until candy reaches 240). 
Step 3:  Using a batter attachment (rather than a whisk), beat egg whites on medium speed.  Slowly drizzle in the hot syrup.  Scrape down the sides, then continue beating for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is thick, white and fluffy.  Set aside.

Step 4:  Prepare the second syrup by mixing the corn syrup and sugar in a 4-cup (1-Qt) glass measuring cup.  
  • Microwave for 3 minutes, then stir.
  • Microwave for 3 minutes, then check temp (mine was 210)
  • Microwave for 3 minutes, then check temp (mine was 240)
The key is to continue to microwave in small increments until you reach 280.
  • Microwave for 3 minutes, then check temp (mine was 260)
  • Microwave for 3 minutes, then check temp (mine was 270) 
  • Microwave for 1 minute more, then check temp (mine was 280)

Step 5:  Let finished syrup sit for 2 minutes for bubbles to subside.  Carefully pour over the marshmallow creme.  Beat on lowest speed to bring the two confections together.

Step 6:  Add the melted butter and vanilla and beat on medium till smooth and shiny. Remove bowl from mixer.  Stir in the toasted nuts with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.  Scrape into prepared pan and  give the pan a shake and a tap on a counter to settle.  Let stand at room temperature, uncovered until cool and firm (2-3 hours).  

Step 7:  Lightly sprinkle the top of the nougat with flaky sea salt.  The salt will melt into the candy and make for a wonderful salty-sweet contrast when you bite in.  Remove candy from pan by lifting out the parchment paper.  Spray a large chef's knife with nonstick spray and use it to score the candy into 1" strips.  Then run knife through each score to separate. Cut into pieces of desired thickness and wrap in waxed paper.

 Enjoy!

  
I love using Japanese wax paper for my homemade candies.  You can find Japanese wax paper on Etsy.  You can also purchase it on Amazon with free shipping:

3 comments:

  1. I just found your blog about an hour ago and I have been entranced by every single part of it. To tell you the truth, I don't even know how I got here! Happy serendipity I guess. I'm signed on now so I don't have to miss any more of the great stuff here and especially love that I won't have to remember how in the world I got to this land of enchantment!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for totally making my day, Judy!!!

      Delete
  2. I am excited to try this. I have always liked really good nougat! Have to say never tried it because I tried making divinity and it always turned out delicious but sure didn't resemble divinity, more like a thick soup. Lol...

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