Friday, March 28, 2014

The Daring Bakers: Chocolate Nougat

When I think of nougat, my mind instantly goes to candy bars that are filled with the soft, delicious and airy nougat.  I also think of it being an addition to a candy rather than the base or main part of a candy bar.  But with this month's daring baker's challenge I learned that nougat can be the star of the show and spruced up by adding different nuts, candy and dried fruits.  The March 2014 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Rebecca of BakeNQuilt. She challenged us to learn to make classic nougat and to make it our own with our choice of flavors and add-ins.

We were given a few recipes options along with the freedom to use a favorite nougat recipe, if we had one.  Since I had only heard of the stuff that fills my favorite candy bars I decided to use one of the recipes that were provided for us so I could get accustomed to this recipe.  One of our options was chocolate, so it was a no-brainer, I had to make the chocolate one!

This nougat is  delicious but it's definitely a different texture than the nougat I'm accustomed to.  It's a little more chewy and sticky.  Instead of topping being poured over it, ingredients are actually mixed in.  This chocolate variation was amazing, I especially enjoyed the various types of nuts in each bite.  Next time I'll try a variation that has been dipped in chocolate!  The options, however, are endless and pretty much anything can be added into the nougat.  So go ahead, go make some nougat!

Chocolate Nougat:

Ingredients:

For the syrup-
2 1/2 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 Cup water
2 Tbsp corn syrup

For the meringue-
3 Large egg whites, room temperature
3/4 Cup + 1 Tbsp clover honey
2 Tbsp corn syrup

Add ins-
3 Oz 100% chocolate, finely chopped
7 Oz 72% chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 Cup pistachios, toasted
1 1/2 Cups almonds, toasted
1 1/3 Cups hazelnuts, toasted

Directions:

Line a 9x9 baking pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.

Place the toasted nuts in a heat safe bowl and place in a 250 degree oven until needed.

Place sugar and 1/4 cup of corn syrup, and water in a 2 quart saucepan and stir to combine.  Set aside.

Place the egg whites in a bowl, but do not mix yet.

Combine the honey and 2 tablespoons of corn syrup in a medium saucepan (giving the mixture room to grow) and place over medium-high heat.  Attach a candy thermometer.  Once the mixture reaches 248 F remove from heat.  Immediately place the pan with the sugar and corn syrup over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, start beating the egg whites until stiff peaks begin to form.  Slowly stream the hot honey mixture down the inside of the bowl and into the whites.  Do not pour directly on the whites or they will collapse.  Continue beating on medium high speed.

As the sugar mixture beings to bubble, dip a pastry brush in water and brush down the sides to remove sugar crystals.  Attach a candy thermometer and once the mixture reaches 310 F remove from heat. Turn the mixer back on high and slowly stream the syrup down the inside of the bowl and mix to incorporate.

Once the sugar syrup is incorporated, continue beating for 3-5 minutes until the whites feel warm, but not hot.  Add both chocolates to the bowl and beat on high until the chocolate is combined.

Using a spatula, fold in the nuts.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread in an even layer.  Allow to sit uncovered for 24 hours.  Remove the set nougat from the pan and remove parchment paper.  Cut as desired.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe source:  Adapted from Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard

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