What Is Nougat Anyway?

updated Oct 8, 2022
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

I was enjoying a meal at a local restaurant this week — trying to manage one more bite of my entree before admitting I was full and calling it quits — when out came the waitress mentioning that the dessert special for the day was a nutella cake with homemade nougat ice cream. My regular stomach clocked out, and my dessert stomach clocked in. “We’re doing this!” But what the heck is nougat anyway?

I’ve never been exactly sure about nougat, but I do know that I love it. Anything with that fluffy, whipped delicacy is absolutely making its way into my stomach with no leftovers. But before that night I’d only seen nougat in candy bars like Snickers, 3 Musketeers, and Zero, so I always had a feeling nougat was fake or processed. But when I heard the words “homemade” and “nougat” together I knew it wasn’t fake, and best of all I knew that meant I could make my own.

Nougat — which first of all is pronounced new-get not new-gat — is traditionally an aerated blend of sugar, egg whites, and nuts and/or fruit. The homemade variety looks very different than the type you find in the middle of the candy bar.

Turns out the “nougat” most of us are familiar with isn’t really nougat at all — it’s a processed mess of hydrolyzed proteins and corn syrup. The real stuff looks like a cross between fudge and fruit cake. And actually “nougat” is even derived from the French word “nogat” “nux gatum” which means “nut cake.”

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Scratch-made nougat comes in a few varieties of colors (white and brown) and forms (hard and soft). The one on my plate was in made into an ice cream, and it was like melted divinity. My dessert stomach once again came through and took one for the team.

Get the Recipe: Nougat with Pistachios and Dried Cranberries | Adventures with Cooking

Have you ever made homemade nougat?

(Images: 1. Eva Kosmos from Adventures with Cooking 2. Chris Perez)