To make great nougat, you really need to have a plan. You have to be legit focused. And(!), consider yourself warned, there are going to be a few minutes when you can't answer the front door, or even look at your phone - boiling hot sugar is no joke. I'm going to show you how to make a fluffy, cloud-like, vanilla nougat candy. Because if you're going to eat candy now and then, it might as well be homemade. You need to read through the recipe in its entirety before starting, so you have a sense of where you're headed. You'll also need a candy thermometer.
To the billowy, sweet, nougat base you can add all manner of flavors and spices. Or, stir in as many seeds, nuts, and dried fruit as the nougat will hold. The version you see pictured has vanilla bean, streaks of saffron, and a medley of nuts and seeds. The version in the video is slightly different. Part of the fun is experimenting with all the different ingredients you can add. A memorable favorite - lavender with loads of toasted white and black sesame seeds.
A few notes about this nougat recipe. A lot of nougat recipes use large amounts of corn syrup. The goal here was to get rid of as much corn syrup as possible, and preferably eliminate it altogether (I'm going to give variations with it, and without below). The version with a small splash of corn syrup is, quite honestly, less temperamental. But you can make nougat without it. What you see pictured here is a nougat made from honey, sugar, egg whites, and water as the base. Then there's vanilla bean, and lots of nuts and seeds beyond that.
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Fluffy Vanilla Nougat
The key here is getting your sugar and honey mixtures to the right temperatures at the right time. Start with all your ingredients measured and on the counter in front of you. If you need clarification of the technique here, watch the 2 minute video up above. The corn syrup here is optional, but the texture of the nougat is incrementally better, and the whole process is less temperamental when you use it. Variations: pinch of saffron diluted in 1 teaspoon gin or vodka added just before any nuts
- 2 egg whites, room temperature
- 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar (500 g), plus 2 tablespoons
- 1 cup / 12 ounces (by weight) honey
- 1/3 cup / 80 ml water
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup (optional)
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from inside (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups add-ins (toasted nuts, seeds, dried fruit, etc)
- special equipment: candy thermometer, pastry brush
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.
Use a clean, dry stand mixer to whip the egg whites to stiff peaks with 2 tablespoons of the sugar. In the mean time, in a small saucepan, over medium heat, bring the honey to 250F on a candy thermometer. Also, at the same time, in a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 2 3/4 cups sugar, water, and corn syrup (if using). Over medium heat, bring this mixture to 300F on a candy thermometer. Carefully and gently swirl the mixtures in their pans now and then, use a pastry brush dipped in water to brush any sugar from the sides of the pan. You want the honey to hit its temp first, followed by the sugar shortly thereafter.
With the mixer running, slowly pour the 250F honey down the side of the bowl into the egg whites. Let the mixer keep running, and as soon as your sugar mixture hits 300F, slowly pour the sugar mixture into the bowl as well, using the same technique (down the side of the bowl). Continue mixing for five minutes or so, until the temperature of the nougat is no longer hot. At this point, stir in the vanilla bean seeds and extract. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and fold in the nuts and seeds by hand.
Transfer the nougat onto the parchment-line baking sheet, cover with another sheet of parchment and allow to cool completely. Cut into desired shapes (the cleaner you can keep your knife the cleaner your cuts will be), and wrap in squares of parchment paper, or candy wrappers. Store in an air-tight container.