Blog Checking Lines: 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.
That’s right, it was my great pleasure to host the Daring Bakers’ Challenge this month! I’ve been baking since I was a kid, but I also have been making candy for years and it remains one of my personal challenges. With that in mind, I decided to choose nougat as the Daring Bakers’ challenge for March.
A friend of mine who often makes it for Passover first introduced me to nougat. I had never had it before and had only heard about the soft and fluffy kind of nougat that shows up inside candy bars. This nougat was completely different – chewy and filled with nuts and dried fruits. It’s addictive stuff! Since then, I’ve been on a quest to become comfortable making it myself.
Nougat is an aerated candy made from sugar, honey, egg whites and nuts. It’s closest cousins are the marshmallow and divinity, though the texture is much chewier than either of those candies. 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.
The flavors, textures and add-ins may vary, but the process of making nougat is fairly standard. Traditionally, nougat is made by adding cooked honey syrup to egg whites that have been whipped. Nuts are usually folded in and occasionally dried or candied fruits or citrus zest are added. The mixture is poured out onto edible wafer paper and smoothed into a block, which is allowed to set before cutting. Nougat is most commonly white, but can also be flavored. To really dress it up, it can be dipped in chocolate.
I had a lot of fun hosting this challenge and I hope everyone who participated had a great time too!