A chewy meringue candy chock full of nuts
November 25th, 2018
Nougat (or "Torrone" in Italian) is basically a marshmallow recipe. But rather than using gelatin to stabilize, the ratio of hot sugar to egg whites stabilizes the proteins so it cools a bit harder. This makes it closer to a chewy taffy-like candy. The exact origins of nougat/torrone are disputed, but it has come to be associated with Christmas in European countries like France and Spain. A quick batch of nougat makes the perfect Holiday gift!
Makes 3 kilograms of nougat
Heat sugar and honey to hard-ball stage. Add the honey then sugar to a medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. Heat the sugar and honey to 250-265°F (121-129°C). This is called the "hard-ball stage." The sugar should bubble as it boils. This can take a while, 15-20 minutes. Do not rush the process.
Pre-whip your egg whites. Mid-way through the process of your sugars cooking, add the egg whites and a pinch of salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until the egg whites come to soft peaks. When you draw the whisk up, the frothy egg whites should form a slight peak that does not hold its shape. Set the speed to very low to keep the whites moving, but not to over-whisk them.
Prepare an Italian meringue. When your sugars are ready, turn the stand mixer whisk back to medium speed. Take the sugars off the heat; slowly and carefully drizzle the sugar down the sides of your mixing bowl. Mix on high speed until the sugar is fully incorporated and the meringue forms stiff peaks, such that the whisk drawn up from the meringue forms a peak that does not dissolve back into the mixture. Your meringue should be very glossy, silky, and homogenous. If it appears greasy or clumpy, your merignue broke (most likely due to over-mixing) and you will have to start over.
Beat in nuts. Switch your stand mixer to the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed to slightly deflate the meringue 1 minute. It should be stringy. Add your nuts, vanilla, and any extra mixins all at once. Beat until fully incorporated. At this point the meringue should still be warm.
Cool and set. Fully line your baking dish with plastic wrap to easily remove your nougat later. Line the bottom with a sheet of wafer paper, if using, or dust with a layer of cornstarch and powdered sugar. Evenly spread the nougat into the baking dish. Line the top of the nougat with wafer paper, if using. Allow to cool at least 4 hours. Remove the nougat and slice to shape with a sharp serrated knife.
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