Montelimar nougat

Nougat2.jpg

Now, I can’t deny it, nougat is one tricky thing to make. Strictly speaking it’s not actually difficult, but there is a lot of boiling hot sticky liquid and much concurrent multitasking.

I have made nougat a few times before and you can throw any nuts and glacé fruit in, add flavours and colourings, however Montelimar nougat should be almonds and pistachios only and no extra colouring.

As it is homemade and doesn’t include preservatives or other nasties, don’t expect it to last long as it will start to dissolve over time. To counteract this, keep it covered in the fridge. Another tip is that I always place rice paper in my tin and a layer of rice paper on top of the nougat: it seems to help.

Equipment
  • Two medium-large saucepans
  • Electric hand whisk or stand mixer (this will be nigh-on impossible by hand unless you’re Popeye)
  • Sugar thermometer (crucial)
  • Spatula
  • Bowl
  • Cake tin, roughly 20cm x 20cm (smaller and your nougat will be tall, bigger than this and you’ll have only a tiny thickness of nougat)
Ingredients
  • Honey (any) – 200ml
  • Granulated sugar – 250g
  • Liquid glucose – 25g
  • Water – enough to just cover the sugar and glucose
  • Blanched (peeled) whole almonds – 100g
  • Pistachios (unsalted) – 50g
  • Egg white – 1
  • Caster sugar – 1 tablespoon
  • Rice paper (optional, but does help)
Method
  1. Line the cake tin with rice paper, as you would if you were using baking paper. A good tip is to dot butter or margarine on the tin to stick the paper to it. Alternatively you can line with thick cling film (don’t use the cheap stuff or it will melt) – check the box if it can be used for blind baking it can be used here
  2. Cut an extra piece of rice paper, if using, the same shape as the tin base and leave to one side. You will use this to put on the top of the nougat
  3. Whisk the egg white with the tablespoon of caster sugar until stiff peaks, leave accessible to one side
  4. Warm the pistachios and almonds either in a saucepan, the oven or the microwave. They should NOT be toasted, just warmed through (heating them stops the nougat from seizing/hardening too quickly when you add them later)
  5. Heat the honey in one saucepan to 125C
  6. Heat the sugar, glucose and water (without stirring) to 140C
  7. Whisk the heated honey into the egg whites
  8. Now whisk the sugar and glucose mix into the honey too and continue whisking until it is starting to cool and begins to get very thick. This will be about 4-5 minutes (and is why it’s best not to try whisking by hand!)
  9. Now add the nuts and swirl through
  10. Pour the nougat into the tin. It will self-level
  11. Once level, top with the extra piece of rice paper
  12. Leave to cool thoroughly – a minimum of a couple of hours
Extra notes
  • When cutting, it is useful to run a sharp knife under a hot tap and to only lightly dry it – you’ll find cutting the nougat is easier this way
  • If it proves very sticky and goes runny quickly you probably didn’t get the sugar up to the correct temperature. Rolling in a little icing sugar may help
  • Keep the nougat covered and in the fridge. You’ll need to eat it within a couple of days. Usually not a problem, but it does mean that if you are giving as a gift you can’t make it too long in advance
Christmas spiced marshmallos

Christmas spiced marshmallows

Christmas spiced marshmallosThese are a lovely way to get your fix of Christmas spices without having yet another mince pie or bite of gingerbread house. They are a lovely handmade gift to give away too, presented in a cellophane bag tied up with some festive ribbon.

Equipment
  • A medium to large heavy base saucepan
  • A sugar thermometer
  • Cake tin about 20cm x 20cm (or whatever you have around this as there’s no need to be exact) or a slab – this is to pour the marshmallow into or onto for setting
  • Stand mixer or bowl and electric hand whisk
Ingredients
  • Cranberry juice – 120 ml
  • Star anise – 1 ‘star’
  • Cinnamon stick – 1 stick
  • Glucose – 35 ml
  • Sugar – 450 g
  • Egg whites – 2
  • Gelatine leaves – 8
  • Cherry brandy – 20 ml (you could also use amaretto or an orange liqueur)
  • Food colouring – pink or red – optional if you think the marshmallows need some extra colour
  • Confectioners sugar for dusting (that’s a 50:50 mix of cornflour and icing sugar) – a good few tablespoons full
  • Chocolate (your choice of dark or at least 50% cocoa solids milk) – 200 g
Method
  1. Tip the cranberry juice in the sauce pan with the sugar, star anise and cinnamon, and bring to a light  simmer for 3-4 mins. Stir to check that the sugar has dissolved
  2. Remove the star anise and the cinnamon
  3. Add the glucose and put the sugar thermometer into the pan, if you’ve not done so already
  4. Bring to a boil and leave to get to 130 C / hard ball stage
  5. While the juice and sugar syrup is heating whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks
  6. Put the gelatine leaves into cold water to soak
  7. When the syrup has reached the right temp, take the pan off the heat and plunge the base into cold water
  8. Start to whisk the (already whisked-to-a-peak) meringues and pour the syrup in as you are whisking – be careful as the syrup is scalding hot and the whisking could flick it out of the bowl at you
  9. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine
  10. Add the gelatine and the cherry brandy now and keep whisking
  11. This is the time to add the food colouring if you want a vibrant colour
  12. Whisk on a medium to high speed until the marshmallow mix cools and really thickens – this could be 10 minutes
  13. Lightly grease your tin and copious dust with the confectioners sugar – including the sides. If you think you’ve added enough you probably still haven’t! Make sure you cannot see any of the tin, not even in the corners as the marshmallow WILL stick! Alternatively, dust a marble slab to pour the marshmallow on to
  14. When it’s cooled pour the marshmallow into the tin/onto the slab – it won’t go far as it’s so thick. It should also self-level
  15. Leave to cool fully – at least an hour and then dust the top with more sugar
  16. Tip out of the tin if you used one
  17. It can be cut with a sharp knife dusted in more confectioners sugar – and roll the cut marshmallow in the sugar on your counter to cover the newly-cut ends
  18. Tap off the excess confectioners sugar from the cut marshmallows
  19. Snap the chocolate into small pieces and melt over a Bain Marie or in the microwave. Temper the chocolate if you want a glossy finish (see my post on tempering temperatures)
  20. Layout a sheet of baking paper – enough to space out all the marshmallows on
  21. Pick up each marshmallow and half dip in the chocolate, laying out each one in turn on the baking paper to cool and harden