Nougat is a super sweet, fluffy, and chewy confection. It’s not so easy to make it, so I’ve definitely gone through some experiments and failures while developing this recipe. First (please don’t laugh too hard) I was trying to make nougat with less sugar. Because: 1) 1 kg of sugar and 2 egg white ratio sounded crazy for me; 2) I’m not very good at putting things into categories (nougat used to have a separate category in my head) and I didn’t know it was candy. And candies are made of (surprise surprise) sugar. So I made a few versions of sweet runny mixture with nuts, that did not look like nougat at all, but I finally found a lower sugar-egg whites ratio that worked best for me.
Everything bad I can tell about my crapy sugar thermometer would require a separate post. Luckily, it did not cost a fortune and worked (almost) properly most of the time. And when it didn’t, I had a chance to accidentally test what happens if your syrup is too hot. Despite some dead nerve cells, it’s not so bad to know things.
Also, I didn’t want any fancy, strange, or hard-to-find ingredients in my recipe. Most of the recipes use liquid glucose because it prevents crystallization and makes the overall texture better. But do you find it in your usual grocery store? I don’t either. But hey, honey also contains glucose! So I decided to give honey a try. Did it work? After I developed this recipe, I’ve made tons of nougat and packed boxes of it as Christmas gifts for my family and friends. I’ve never ever received so many compliments about anything. So I guess it did work just fine!
Technique and equipment
On one hand, the method is pretty straightforward, but it requires some patience, attention, and special equipment.
A sugar thermometer is a must because you have to be pretty precise with the sugar syrup temperature, or your nougat might not set properly. It does not have to be made only for sugar, any thermometer (e.g. grill), that reads high temperatures and is safe to use with hot steaming liquids, will do.
I recommend using a stand mixer. I’m not saying that it’s not possible to use a hand-held mixer, but whisking a sticky mixture by hand for 15 mins or so does not sound appealing to me. If you decide to use a hand mixer anyway, make sure it’s powerful enough and borrow extra pair of hands, because you will need to boil sugar syrup and whisk eggs at the same time.
Not freaked out? Good! Follow along with my step-by-step nougat recipe.
Nougat with almonds, pistachios and dried cherries
Nougat is a super sweet, fluffy, and chewy confection. Make it at home for your family and friends following this step-by-step recipe.
- Prep Time1 hr 10 min
- Rest / Chill Time2 hr
- Yield40 pieces
- 2 egg whites of medium eggs (~65 g / 2.3 oz in total)
- 400 g / 14 oz simple granulated or caster sugar
- 200 g / 7 oz honey
- 60 ml / 2 fl oz water
- 100 g / 3,5 oz almonds
- 100 g / 3,5 oz pistachios
- 50 g / 1,8 oz dried cherries
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- A few sheets of edible wafer paper
Slightly grease a baking pan with some butter or oil and line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper. Put a wafer paper sheet on the bottom (it does not have to be a single sheet) and prepare the same size of wafer paper sheet to cover the top later. I use two standard loaf panss 11×21 cm / 4,5×8,5 inch pans.
Preheat the oven to 90°C / 195°F. Roughly chop the nuts with a knife and cut cherries in half, to make sure there are no cherry pits left (optional). Spread the nuts and cherries on the baking tray and keep them in the hot oven till you make a nougat mixture.
Make sure your stand mixer bowl and whisk attachment are very clean. Wipe them with some vinegar to remove any grease residue and help to stabilize the egg whites. Pour the egg whites into the bowl and prepare your stand mixer (don’t turn it on yet).
Pour honey into a pot, add sugar and water. Heat the mixture on a low heat stirring all the time, till sugar melts completely and you don’t feel any crystals cracking under the spoon anymore (~30 mins).
During the process, brush sugar crystals from the sides of the pot with a wet brush.
Do not bring the syrup to boil before sugar crystals have melted (see notes).
When the sugar has melted and you have an even liquid, stop stirring, insert a sugar thermometer (its tip should not be touching the bottom of the pot, but I did not have enough hands to hold my thermometer while taking the picture), increase the heat, and bring to boil. The syrup will start bubbling a lot.
When the sugar syrup reaches ~120°C / ~248°F, beat the egg whites till stiff peaks form. If it happens before sugar syrup has reached 145°C / 293°F, reduce the mixer speed just to keep the egg whites moving.
When the sugar syrup reaches 145°C / 293°F, remove it from heat and slowly pour it into the egg whites, while mixing on medium speed all the time. Pour the syrup somewhere in between the edge of the bowl and the whisk attachment, to make sure the hot liquid does not splatter all over the place.
Once all the syrup was incorporated, add vanilla extract, increase the speed to high and whisk for ~10-15 mins.
How to tell if you have whisked enough? If the mixture is running down from the lifted whisk attachment, it’s not done yet:
When the whisk starts leaving a clear trace while beating:
And the mixture does not fall back, but holds its shape on a lifted whisk:
It’s done. Stop whisking.
Take out the nuts from the oven and mix them into the nougat mixture using a big spoon. The mixture will be thick and sticky, so it’s best to do this when the bowl is still locked on the stand mixer.
Scrape the nougat mixture into the lined pans. Grease your hands with some oil, level the surface with your fingers as best as you can, and cover the top with an edible wafer paper sheet. You should get ~2 cm / ~0.8-inch thick nougat layer.
Put the other same-sized pan (or anything else flat) on the top of the nougat layer and press it hard, to flatten the top perfectly and make the wafer paper stick evenly.
Let it sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours or overnight.
After the nougat has cooled completely and slightly thickened, take it out of the pans and remove parchment paper. Grease a sharp serrated knife with some oil and cut the nougat into pieces. If the knife starts sticking, clean and regrease it.
Keep nougat pieces in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
- Nougat mixture will stick to everything it touches, so make sure that everything is well lined with parchment paper or greased.
- Grease the baking pan before lining it to make the parchment paper stick. It will make your life a lot easier.
- When sugar syrup starts boiling and bubbling, it doubles in volume. So make sure that the pot you are using is big enough to contain the bubbling liquid.
- If you bring the sugar syrup to boil before sugar crystals have melted, your syrup might crystalize, and you will have to start all over again. So don’t rush things in the beginning. To speed melting up, use fine (or caster) sugar, which has smaller crystals. Powdered sugar melts even faster, but it’s a lot harder to see and feel if it’s melted completely or not. That’s why I prefer sugar crystals.
- The tip of your sugar thermometer should not be touching the bottom of the pot or it might show a wrong temperature. I use an induction stove and I did not notice any temperature difference even if I let it touch the bottom, but be aware of this possibility if your stove is different.
- I recommend using a waterproof thermometer or one that has a long cord. If the thermometer is sitting straight above the syrup, it gets wet from vapor and might stop working during the process.
- You can use different nuts or berries only keep the total weight of nut-berry mixture around 250 g / 8.8 oz.
- Keep nuts in the hot oven till you need to mix them in. Don’t let them cool down or it will be harder to mix them into the sticky mixture.
- Edible wafer paper is optional, but it makes cutting and storing a lot easier. If you are not using it, cover the nougat fully with parchment paper and remove it only after cutting the nougat to pieces.
- Do not keep nougat in the fridge. It prefers a dry environment and it’s quite humid inside the fridge.