So this Christmas thing is nearly here. It’s a pretty popular holiday, although I’m not gonna lie, I’m really only in it for the people, the presents, the food, and the Christmas cake. (Which is food, but it’s special food so I’m counting it on its own.)
Speaking of special food, I’m also pretty partial to nougat at this time of year. My best friend asked me to describe it to her the other day, and I couldn’t really come up with anything better that “it’s kind of a nutty chewy honey thing”. Maybe it’s something that’s better tasted than it is described?
I jazzed up this festive almond and honey nougat with printed edible wafer paper in a snazzy Christmas tree pattern from Kiwicakes. I actually bought this last year with the intention of making fancy nougat as gifts, but I popped the wafer paper in a drawer and promptly forgot about it. For a year… But here we are and I’ve finally used it.
While we’re on the subject of where we are, I have a little update on the “where I am” situation, before we get on to the nougat recipe.
This week my family is moving from Wellington up to Tauranga. Which is freakin’ aaaaages away. Ok, it’s seven-ish hours by car (or eight if I’m in the car, I need frequent rest stops, I have a bladder the size of a goldfish).
I’m not going to lie, I’m still not keen on the idea. I dislike (and by dislike, I mean I’m really, really, really super not good with) change. I’ve lived in this house for 26 years so it’s a major change. But people keep telling me change is good, so I’m going to have to trust them. I’m also going to have to sulk a bit until then (sorry mum). These are the joys of being 28 but too damaged to live on your own. (Let’s be honest though, I’m a mama’s girl, and I couldn’t live in a different town to my parents anyway. No one else puts up with my sh*t like they do.)
There is good news though, I’ll be having a fancy new cake room/blog studio, and Mum and I have plans for a flash new kitchen, which I’ve been thinking I might blog about, so you’ll be able to see what we’re up to.
I also have a few recipes and a couple of little tutorials already photographed, so while we’re busy doing house-y things I’ll be posting those. Including a super-summery dessert with that lemon curd I told you about the other day. I hope to have that up before Christmas.
Right, now that my little status update is done, let’s talk about this nougat again.
It’s a pretty classic nougat flavour, honey gives the nougat both its flavour and its chew, and the toasty almonds give it crunch. You could, of course, add other things as well as or in place of the almonds. Any other kind of nut would work, and dried cranberries or glacé cherries would be rather festive also.
You do need a candy thermometer for this recipe, if you don’t have one already I highly recommend getting a probe thermometer, because you can also use it to check if your cake is baked all the way through. They’re handy like that.
You don’t have to have printed wafer paper for this if you can’t get your hands on some, regular plain white wafer paper is just fine. I used one sheet of printed paper as the top sheet, and used plain wafer paper on the bottom. You could even get kids to draw on some wafer paper with edible markers for a personalised treat.
Lining the cake pan with non-stick baking paper makes it easy to remove the nougat for cutting. You can spray the pan with oil to make the paper stay in place, or do as I did and use metal clips.
A perfect gift, right?
You need two important pieces of equipment for this recipe: a candy thermometer and a stand mixer. I wouldn't suggest making this recipe with a hand-held mixer, the nougat mixture gets very stiff and it could break the mixer.
You can replace the almonds with any mix-in of your choice.
- 200g blanched almonds (skin removed)
- 2 sheets edible wafer paper
- 440g caster sugar
- 1/4 cup corn syrup or liquid glucose
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 large egg whites
Heat oven to 180°C. Spread the almonds into a single layer on a baking tray, and bake for 5-8 minutes or until lightly toasted. Allow to cool and then roughly chop them.
Line an 8" square cake pan with baking paper, leaving some overhanging each edge. Trim two pieces of wafer paper to fit the pan. Place one inside (I placed the printed sheet of paper in, face down) and set the other piece aside.
Place the egg whites into the clean, grease-free bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Combine the caster sugar, corn syrup, honey and water in a medium saucepan. Stir over a medium heat without boiling until most of the sugar has dissolved. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash away any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan, then increase the heat and boil, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 150°C.
Meanwhile, when the syrup is at about 140°C, start whisking the egg whites on medium-high speed. You're aiming to have the egg whites as stiff-peak stage by the time the syrup reaches 150°C.
Once the syrup is ready, and with the mixer still running on medium speed, pour the syrup in a thin stream into the egg whites. Continue whisking for a further 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is thick, stiff and shiny. While it's beating, spray a couple of silicone spatulas with oil (or rub them with a paper towel dipped in oil).
Working quickly, use one of the oiled spatulas to stir in the almonds. Scrape the mixture into the prepared cake pan, pressing into an even layer. Place the second sheet of wafer paper on top.
Leave the nougat at room temperature for several hours to set. Lift the nougat from the pan, and use an oiled knife to cut it into pieces. I find it easiest to score through the wafer paper with a serrated knife, and then use a large chef's knife to cut down through the nougat. I cut mine into 1" x 2" pieces.
Store the nougat in an airtight container, with baking paper between each layer to stop it sticking.
Nougat will keep for 1-2 weeks at cool room temperature. If it's very humid where you live, then it's best to make the nougat as close to serving as possible.
Happy chewing 😉