Sunday, March 4, 2012

Nougat



We have reached that most wondrous of moments in Harry's early life at Hogwarts when he first views Honeydukes Sweet Shop. This is definitely a paragraph we'll be working through for awhile:




"There were shelves upon shelves of the most succulent-looking sweets imaginable. Creamy chunks of nougat, shimmering pink squares of coconut ice, fat, honey-colored toffees; hundreds of different kinds of chocolate in neat rows; there was a large barrel of Every Flavor Beans, and another of Fizzing Whizbees, the levitating sherbet balls that Ron had mentioned; along yet another wall were 'Special Effects' sweets: Droobles Best Blowing Gum (which filled a room with bluebell-colored bubbles that refused to pop for days), the strange, splintery Toothflossing Stringmints, tiny black Pepper Imps ('breathe fire for your friends!'), Ice Mice ('hear your teeth chatter and squeak!'), peppermint creams shaped like toads ('hop realistically in the stomach!'), fragile sugar-spun quills, and exploding bonbons" (Prisoner of Azkaban 197).

Dinah Bucholz' recipe for nougat includes Rice or Wafer Paper, which kind of encases the nougat. I didn't use it because I couldn't find it (though I'm told it is available online and at some specialty food stores). If you have access to it, I definitely recommend using it. Even filo sheets might work. Just know that without it, your nougat will remain sticky forever, and if you wrap it in wax paper (like I did), you might never unwrap it again! Another option would be to use this nougat as an ingredient in something else, like homemade Mars Bars, for example!

You should also know that it is totally possible to make nougat with a regular electric hand mixer. But if you have a stand mixer, use it! I don't have a stand mixer, and for this recipe especially, I sure wish I had one! I will reproduce the recipe here as Ms. Bucholz created it, for use with a stand mixer.

You Will Need:
Rice or wafer paper
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup honey
1 cup water
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 Tbs vanilla
1 cup whole pistachios, toasted
1 cup toasted blanched slivered almonds


1. Spray a 9 x 13" pan with cooking spray and line with rice or wafer paper (you may need to cut the paper to fit, or use more than one sheet).
2. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, honey, and water in a medium saucepan.
3. Place the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar in the 5 qt bowl of a standing mixer with a whisk attachment and begin beating on medium speed. 
4. Place the sugar mixture pan on the stove, and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, and clip on a candy thermometer.


5. The goal here is to have the sugar syrup reach 240 degrees at the same time as the egg whites form soft mounds. If you're using a hand mixer, this is impossible. Don't worry about it. When both of these things have happened, carefully pour 1 cup of the hot syrup into the eggwhites while still beating on medium speed.


6. Return the syrup to the heat, and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 300 degrees. Simultaneously, beat the egg mixture until it is stiff and glossy. Again, you want these goals to be met at the same moment (ha). When this does happen, slowly pour the rest of the syrup into the egg whites while beating on medium-high.

7. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
8. Add the nuts and fold in completely with a spatula. 
9. Immediately pour the mixture into the prepared pan (the hotter it is, the easier this will be, so work fast!). Smooth the top and press down rice or wafer paper over the top.

Note that I used wax paper. Not recommended.

10. Let the nougat cool and set up overnight. Then use a serrated knife to cut the nougat into pieces. Store the extras covered in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.

If you don't use wafer paper. you'll need to use your fingers to shape the nougat into edible-sized pieces.

I think this nougat tastes kind of like marshmallows. It's tasty, but it I think I prefer nougat inside other candy bars instead of on its own! But you should make up your own mind! Enjoy!

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