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. I had never made nougat before. To be honest, I wasn’t even exactly sure what defined “nougat” until this challenge. Nougat is roughly defined as a confection (candy) made from whipped egg whites, honey and/or caramelized sugar, and often with things like nuts and candied fruit mixed in. Depending upon the cooking temperatures, humidity of the day, etc., nougat may be soft and chewy to hard and brittle but is normally somewhat “sticky”. Nougat is a popular filling in candy bars but is amazing on it’s own! I decided to make a peanut butter nougat and, for good measure, dipped squares of it in melted chocolate! It is amazing in the chocolate but I think it’s just as good “naked”. I couldn’t stop eating the stuff.
There area few classifications of nougat. The one I have made here would fall under the “white nougat” category, which means that it is made with beaten egg whites and honey or sugar. There is also a “brown nougat” which is made without egg whites and is often much crunchier and also a Viennese or German Nougat, which is similar to a praline with chocolate and nuts (thanks Wikipedia for the info!). White nougat, it seems, is by far the most popular and prevalent form of this confection.
I thought initially that I would make homemade snickers bars since they contain a nougat layer. This was my pan for a while until the day came to actually made them and I just didn’t feel like making caramel. Lol. Long day at work I guess. And also I figured it would be good to try nougat on it’s own as it is not the only star in a snicker’s bar. Yes, let’s go with that excuse. All in the name of taste testing, not laziness, right? Hehehe. I still plan to make those snicker’s bars one day.
I did still want that peanut goodness that I was craving. So I decided to make a peanut butter nougat. Sooooo good. The process of making this is a bit fussy, since it does involve making candy. You need to make a syrup on the stove and monitor the temperature (with a candy or fry thermometer) so that you know what it is done. Step away for too long and it could boil over (almost happened to me), or shoot up too far in temperature (also, almost happened to me). You also need to time the beating of your egg whites so that they will be properly aerated when the syrup is at the correct stage. When the egg white mixture is nice and puffy (I couldn’t believe the volume I got from just one white, a little corn syrup and vanilla), you drizzle in the prepared syrup and then beat the whole thing for another 4 minutes. You then fold in a mixture of peanut butter, powdered milk and confectioner’s sugar and then spread the whole thing into a parchment lined baking dish or pan. Let it cool for about 45 minutes and you are ready to cut it up into squares! Or just rip chunks of it off because you can’t possibly wait another moment to try it…
You can choose to dip this in chocolate if you wish. I did about 3/4 of my nougat in chocolate and left the rest. You can sprinkle sea salt over the freshly dipped chocoalte as well if you like that sweet and salty taste. My boyfriend is iffy at best on sweet and salty so I only did a few that way. They are quite pretty with the salt on top.
This nougat is on the chewy side but by no means “hard” or “brittle”. It will soften a bit after a day or so. Make sure you store it in an airtight container so that it doesn’t dry out.
I used chunky peanut butter in my nougat which I highly recommend for the nice texture it gives them. It also looks nice with the flecks of peanut throughout.
Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Nougat Squares
(Adapted from “Chocolate and Peanut Butter Nougat Squares” on http://www.saveur.com/)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1¼ cups light corn syrup
- ½ cup unsulfured molasses
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1 large egg white
- 1 cup chunky peanut butter
- ¾ cup dry powdered milk
- ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 lb. semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tbsp. vegetable shortening
- Sea salt, to garnish (optional)
- Line a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
- Combine sugar, 1 cup corn syrup, molasses, and ¾ cup water in a 6-qt. saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. (Make sure you use a pan at least this size or larger- it will need the room when it’s boiling).
- Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 250°.
- Meanwhile, put remaining corn syrup, vanilla, and egg white into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk.
- In a medium bowl, combine peanut butter, powdered milk, and confectioners’ sugar and stir until fully incorporated. It will look like coarse sand. Set aside.
- When syrup reaches 235°, begin to whip egg white mixture on high speed.
- Once the syrup reaches 250°, remove pan from heat and let sit 1 minute.
- Reduce mixer speed to medium and carefully pour hot syrup in a steady stream down the edge of the inside of the bowl (do NOT pour right on top of the whipped mixture as it could deflate it).
- After all the syrup is added, increase speed to medium-high and beat for 4 minutes.
- Remove bowl from mixer and, using a rubber spatula, fold in peanut butter mixture gently but quickly until well combined.
- Transfer to prepared baking pan and smooth with a rubber spatula. If it is sticking too much to the spatula, spray it with cooking spray and then try it. Or you can spray your hands and lightly press the mixture into the pan (if it isn’t too hot).
- Let cool to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Do not overcool or it will be difficult to cut up.
- Remove nougat from pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 1″ squares and set aside.
- Combine chocolate and shortening in a medium heat-proof bowl and set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, stirring often, until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Remove bowl from pot and let chocolate cool until an instant-read thermometer reads 89°.
- Using two forks or a candy dipping fork, dip a square of nougat into the chocolate, shake off excess coating, and place candy on a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper. If using two forks, hold nougat on one fork and gently use the second fork to slide it off onto your cooling pan.
- Sprinkle squares with a small pinch of sea salt while chocolate is still liquid (if desired); repeat with remaining nougat squares, chocolate, and sea salt. If chocolate cools below 86°, set the bowl over the pot of simmering water and heat, stirring constantly, until it returns to 89°, then continue coating nougat squares. Let chocolate cool to room temperature and set before serving.
Nougat will soften after a few days and this will vary depending on humidity, etc. In theory, meaning I haven’t tried it, if you cook the syrup to a slightly lower temperature you can achieve a softer candy, and also vice versa. I like the chewiness of it the way described here but to each their own! Either way, it is quite nom nom!
Also, this nougat is great even when it’s “naked”! I left some of my squares un-dipped and they are just as good…