December 6, 2016

Almond Nougat Candy 杏仁牛軋糖

Almond Nougat Candy 杏仁牛軋糖

Almond, Nougat, Candy, soft, torrone, recipe, holiday, christmas, treat, 杏仁, 牛軋糖
By Published: 2016-12-06
Okay, I seriously like nougat a lot...a very a lot.  It's so festive!  And yummy.  Every once in a while I will splurge on prettily wrapped bags of nougats to nibble on,  bags that empty way too quickly into the tummy of the nearest nougat addict.  (Umm...that would probably be me.)  

The problem I found was that I always wanted to eat a LOT of nougat, darnit that honey scented soft fluffy whiteness interspersed with the nutty crunch of roasted nuts makes it just simply irresistible and addictive.  So I figured if I wanted to eat a LOT of nougie maybe I should try to make some at home and pig out standing in the comfort of my own kitchen.  

But then I got discouraged cuz there was a lot of stuff in nougat making like sugar 'crack' stage and glucose syrup and so on and I thought, meh...this is too hard.  (I've been struggling with sugar work...more on that later.)  But then...then I found a classic nougat recipe that was really simple and straightforward to make, only three ingredients! and a bit of time.  With this traditional recipe I made my own Almond Nougat Candy (just in time for wrapping up as gorgeous homemade Christmas gifts!  After I nosh my way through the first batch, that is...) and what can I say, it's soooo yummilicious!  Gosh darn it, this freshly made nougat, just soft enough to be deliciously chewy, really beats the socks off anything you can buy in the stores!


Almond, Nougat, Candy, soft, torrone, recipe, holiday, christmas, treat, 杏仁, 牛軋糖

It's fun as you can put a lot of different things inside your nougat candy, as it obligingly holds up whatever you put in it.  The classic additions would be delightfully crunchy things like almond, pistachio and any kind of roasted nuts, or chewy bursts of citrus scented flavor like fruit peels and dried fruits.  (You could toss in some of our Candied Lemon Peel, that would be divine!)  I have lot of almonds handy nowadays as I have discovered that they are pretty cheap and fresh if bought at the wet markets or even at some of the chinese pharmacies here in HK.  So almonds it was and I prepared them by roasting over low, low heat in my trusty cast iron pan until toasty, golden and fragrant.

Almond, Nougat, Candy, soft, torrone, recipe, holiday, christmas, treat, 杏仁, 牛軋糖
Egg whites whipped to stiff peaks
At the beginning I wasn't at all sure that this recipe was going to work cuz it did seem altogether too simple.  Just the two main ingredients for the nougat- honey and egg white, that's it!  How was a wee bit of honey and some whipped egg whites and a whole lot of stirring going to somehow emerge as that magical white fluffiness know as nougat?  Usually, as I noted already, making nougat requires some serious sugar skill and is much more complicated.  Well it turns out there's some magic in this traditional Italian recipe!

Almond, Nougat, Candy, soft, torrone, recipe, holiday, christmas, treat, 杏仁, 牛軋糖

I used a local Hong Kong honey, Wing Wo Honey, for its delicate floral freshness as obviously the honey was to be the main flavor for the nougat.  That's really the secret of the unique nougat taste, it's basically a mellowed out honey candy delightfully kitted out in a sexy marshmallowy disguise.

Almond, Nougat, Candy, soft, torrone, recipe, holiday, christmas, treat, 杏仁, 牛軋糖

To make this soft nougat you just gently heat the honey over a bain marie and then add in your whisked egg whites and stir, and stir, and stir some more.  (Humm...it might be a good idea here to get a book to read or put on some music...it does takes a while.)  

Stir away until you reach a stage called 'soft ball stage,' then you can add in the almonds or whatever you're adding to the nougat.  Soft ball stage is tested by dropping a small bit of the nougat mixture into a glass of water, where if it is ready it will solidify into a ball.  If not ready it will dissolve in the water.

After adding your nuts, stir, and stir, and stir some more until it gets really thick.  (See I told you you might need a book to read.)  

Almond, Nougat, Candy, soft, torrone, recipe, holiday, christmas, treat, 杏仁, 牛軋糖

Okay, you've been stirring and stirring until your arms have fallen off but it's slowly looking more and more like nougat, yeah!  But...and this is pivotal...how do you know when it's ready to come out of the pot and be left to set into nougat?  Well the nougat is ready to pour out when it's very, very thick.  If you can find edible wafer paper you can sandwich the nougat between wafer paper.  Or some folks pour out onto parchment paper but be sure to generously sprinkle with cornstarch first.  I used a cornstarch sprinkled silicone mat, sprinkling more cornstarch on top and pressing down with my hands to flatten and shape before the nougat set.

Tip:  The first time I poured the nougat out it was liquidy and sticky, i.e. not ready yet.  So I just scooped it all back into bain marie and stirred it over the heat some more until it was really, really thick.  This time when pouring it held together and set as nougat should.

Almond, Nougat, Candy, soft, torrone, recipe, holiday, christmas, treat, 杏仁, 牛軋糖

Yum, yumm...I'm noshing away on a fresh nougie right now, yum, yum, yummy yum!  I wish I could share some with all my dear readers but right now I think I need to eat a LOT of this stuff, it's just gorgeous!  But never you mind, it's actually quite easy to make, just longish in stirring time, but so worth it if you're a nougat freak like me or even if you just want to give totally awesome homemade nougat as a special Christmas gift to your friends and family!

Prep time:    Cook time:

Almond Nougat Candy Recipe  杏仁牛軋糖
(adapted from Food52 recipe here)

Ingredients:

2 cups  almonds, 500g
3/4 cups honey, 500g
2 egg whites 
1/4 cup cornstarch
edible wafer paper

Directions:

Toast nuts over low heat in pan or in a low heat oven, turning and stirring occasionally until golden brown in spots.  Let cool.

Pour honey into a large stainless steel  or glass heatproof bowl and set over a pot with an inch or so of just barely simmering water (a bain marie).  The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl.  Heat honey until melted and runny.

Whisk egg whites until stiff peaks form, check stiffness by turning bowl upside down, whites should stay in place.  Add the whisked eggs slowly into the melted honey, stirring all the while.  Stir over the gentle heat of the bain marie for 45 mins.  The mixture will slowly thicken and turn paler in color.  

Do a soft ball test by spoon dropping a bit of the mixture into a bowl or glass of water.  If the mixture hardens into a ball and doesn't not dissolve into the water, then it is ready for the addition of the nuts.  If not stir a bit longer and retest.  Once the almonds are added, stir for another 30 mins or so until the mixture becomes very, very thick*.

If using wafer paper, pour nougat out onto your edible wafer paper lined pan (approx. 8 by 8") and then cover with second sheet and press down.  Or just pour out straight onto wafer paper - I liked the rustic look of the naturally poured shape.

Or if using the cornstarch approach (easier I think), prepare a silicone mat or sheet of parchment paper by generously sprinkle cornstarch all over.  Scrape the mixture out onto mat or paper and sprinkle with cornstarch generously on top and sides as well to coat all over.  Press down on nougat with a cutting board or with your hands to flatten the nougat to your desired height.  Let cool completely, then cut into rectangles with a very lightly oiled sharp knife.  Store in air tight container for a up to 2 weeks.

*Tip: At this point to test if the nougat is ready to take out and set, I would recommend a test first to avoid having the whole mixture out of the pan only to have to put it back in.  To test the nougat just take a big spoonful out and plop on to your cornstarch covered working surface.  If it seems to hold shape and with the help of the cornstarch to not be sticking to surfaces, then it is ready.  If it seems to just stick to everything then it's not cooked enough.



      


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