Homemade Nougat with Honey & Macadamia Nuts…
I’m going to let you in on a little something about my cookbook buying habits. I’m sure you can relate. I buy a lot of cookbooks. And that’s putting it mildly. I am fast and furiously building up my cookbook collection. I love them. I can’t get enough of them. And the more pictures they have, the better.
Having heard that confession, its right to assume that I haven’t yet actually made a lot of the recipes in those cookbooks. And that’s part of the excitement. If I ever get bored or lack inspiration, all I have to do is page through endless pages of endless books and there’s no chance that I won’t get inspired.
My collection got one book bigger the other day as I wandered round my favorite bookstore and was inspired. I picked up a little book called “Field Guide to Candy” and started paging through. After a few pages I was hooked. Here was a simple, categorical collection of recipes and notes on how to make just about any candy you can think of.
I’m sometimes skeptical when I look at buying a new cookbook, as there are some cookbooks out there with recipes that just don’t work, and you wonder how they got published in the first place. (that’s why I love food blogs so much, tried and tested all the way) But I took one look at the author and not only were my fears long gone, but surprise and excitement followed.
One of my favorite bloggers, Anita Chu from Dessert First, had written a cookbook? And here in the middle of this little bookstore in Cape Town, South Africa I had stumbled upon it? It was meant to be. And I bought it.
And this book will be different. It will end up with pages crumpled and splotched with sweet substances because it will be well used.
I haven’t made a lot of candy up until now, it always seemed so tricky. But I’ve wanted to, and I’m happy to have this guide to make things easier. One of my favorite sweets is Nougat and I didn’t wait even two days before jumping in and making it.
It is a little tricky, it is a lot sticky and a lot messy but its a lot yummy to.
Honey & Macadamia Nut Nougat…
(Adapted from “Field Guide to Candy” by Anita Chu)
- 4-6 sheets edible rice paper
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup/glucose syrup
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups whole macadamia nuts
Line a 9-by-13-inch baking tin with rice paper. (Non-stick greaseproof paper will do if you don’t have or don’t want to use rice paper)
Place the egg whites in your stand mixer. (one of these is almost essential to making nougat unless you have someone else with you to help)
Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until soft peaks form.
Place the honey in a small saucepan and cook over med-high heat until it comes to the boil.
Oops, that’s not the boil, it must bubble up and become frothy, then you can turn the mixer onto low speed and add the bubbling honey in a slow steady stream.
That’s why a stand mixer is best. Bubbling hot honey in one hand trying to whisk at the same time with the other hand would not end well. Safety first people.
Turn the mixer up to high speed and continue mixing until the mixture has cooled some, and forms stiff peaks.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup/glucose syrup and salt with 1/2 cup water in a saucepan.
Cook over med heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Throughout the process it is a good idea to dip a pastry brush in water and brush down the sides of the pan to wash down any sugar crystals that may have formed. These would cause crystalisation in the syrup later on which is a big no no.
Once all the sugar is dissolved, stop stirring and continue to cook until the syrup reaches 150°C/300°F (hard crack stage) on a sugar thermometer. It is NB not to stir the syrup once the sugar is dissolved as any agitation of the syrup could cause crystalisation which is a what? Correct, big no no.
Once the syrup has reached 150°C/300°F, turn the mixer onto low speed and add the syrup in a slow, steady stream.
Continue mixing until the mixture has cooled and is stiff and glossy. This may take a while.
Add the vanilla and the butter and mix to incorporate. The mixture may appear to separate and will half in volume but don’t panic, this is normal. Continue to mix and it will reincorporate.
Remove the bowl from the stand and add the nuts. Stir them in with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.
Spread the mixture out into the baking pan. This is the sticky part. And cover it with another layer of rice paper. Press down on the rice paper to flatten the mixture. It firms up pretty quickly so you will have to press quite hard.
If you’re not using rice paper, heat a metal spoon up in boiling water and use the back of it to press down on the mixture to smooth it.
Let the nougat set. Mine only took 2 hours to set but the recipe says overnight.
When you’re ready to cut it, use a well oiled knife and re-grease it between cuts. I would advise you to wrap it immediately in cellophane as the pieces that I didn’t wrap seemed to flatten and loose shape a bit after about 30 min.
N helped with the wrapping as it was a father’s day gift to our dad. I was so happy when he kept asking over and over, “Did you really make this?”
Dad, I love you! You are the best Daddy in the world. It’s true. And Mom I love you just as much, you are always there, even in the background of my photographs. :)
Now, don’t be scared. Try it out, and if you have any questions, I’m here to help.