Friday, July 15, 2005

Nougat Blanc

"One of the most commonly believed, and nicest stories, is that the name nougat evolved from France where an elderly lady combined almonds, egg whites, honey and sugar as a treat for local children. As the first nougat maker the children began to call her Tante Manon, tu nous gates (meaning Aunt Manon, you spoil us) and hence the word nougat is said to have first originated from this name. While the French believe nougat first originated in 1650 when the almond tree was introduced to the Montelimar area it is probable that nougat has been around far longer although carrying a different name. It seems nougat has been around for more than 500 years in the Middle East and probably paralleled the development of marzipan and other delicious desserts. Even before the birth of Christ the Greeks were praising the gastronomic value of a mixture made with almonds and honey".

Nougat Blanc:
3 c. sugar
1-3/4 c. honey
1 c. water
2 egg whites
1 tsp. brandy in which a vanilla bean has been infused
2 c. nutmeats (broken and toasted, if preferred)

Put the sugar, honey, and water together and cook until a hard crack ball will form when dropped in cold water. Beat the egg whites until stiff and pour the hot syrup slowly into them, beating constantly until the mixture grows too stiff to beat. Then fold in the brandy and nut meats. Mix well and pour onto a marble slab. When it is cool, cut in squares or rectangles. (If you do not have a marble slab, pour nougat onto pain azyme (rice paper or wafer paper) and place another sheet on top and weight with a board until cool.)

Depending upon the flavor of honey and type and shape of nuts (broken, toasted, ground) used, each batch of nougat will taste differently. Nougat is a traditional sweet eaten at holiday times.

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