Curious Candies: Have You Ever Made Nougat?

Imagine a cross between a marshmallow and a meringue, fragrant with honey and studded with tender nuts, and you've got nougat! We love to nibble it on its own and crumble it into desserts, but we've never actually made it ourselves. Have you?

We're thinking of making nougat to send as part of our holiday care packages this year. It should travel well, and would make a fun change from our usual fair. Plus it's a challenge!

We only found a few recipes for nougat online, and many more when we realized we should search for "torrone." This is the official name for nougat as it is made in Northern Italy. There, torrone is a special delicacy saved for the fall and winter months!

Making nougat sounds so simple in theory that we're surprised more people don't make it at home. You beat egg whites until they form soft peaks and then pour in a honey-sugar mixture that's been boiled until just before it starts to caramelize. When the egg whites becomes stiff and glossy, you fold in nuts and other yummy bits, and then press the whole sticky mass into a baking dish to cool completely before cutting it into squares.

Many recipes also seem to rely on glucose, which helps with texture and prevents the sugar from recrystallizing. We've never actually done anything with glucose before, and the idea of working with it now feels both intimidating and exhilarating. Still, we do wonder if glucose is really authentic. We can't imagine Italian grandmothers had much access to pure glucose!

Here are a few of the recipes we're thinking of using as guides:

Pistachio Nougat (and Nougat Ice Cream!) from Canelle et Vanille
Torrone from Delicious Days
Pistachio Torrone from Epicurious
Torrone with Orange and Almonds from the Food Network

Any words of advice or warning before we set out on this new adventure?

Related: Weekend Project: Make Macarons!

(Image: Flickr member jeanlouis_zimmermann licensed under Creative Commons)