Nougat Candy: An All-Time Favourite
Chewy, delicious, irresistible… These are just a few words to describe nougat candy! Nougat is a classic candy traditionally prepared with egg whites, honey and almonds. With its rich history, this mouthwatering confectionery doesn’t fall short in the flavour department. Let’s not keep you waiting! Join Dessert Advisor as we explore the different types of nougat!
History of Nougat Candy
Nougat’s history traces back to an ancient cookbook found in the Roman Empire from the 1st century AD. However, an actual complete recipe appeared in the 10th century in the Middle East as “natif” (dribble). Nowadays, it’s referred to as “Mann Al Sama” or “Manna Wa Salwa”.
As it grew in popularity along the Mediterranean Sea, other countries made their own variations of this dessert. You can find this treat in Europe, South America and Asia. More sweets for everybody!
Three Types of Nougat Sweets
Nougat’s texture varies depending on how it is prepared. It can either be soft and chewy or have a hard and crunchy consistency.
In the world of nougat treats, there are three types you should know about:
- White nougat: This is the most common nougat. White nougat, or “Torrone” (Italian)/“Turrón”(Spanish), takes its name from the colours and consistency of beaten egg whites and honey. Turrón was first documented in Italy during the early 15th century, and then found in France in the 18th century.
- Brown nougat: The brown nougat is referred to as “Nougat Noir” or “Crocante”. It’s different from the white nougat since it is prepared without egg whites. As a result, the brown nougat has a firmer consistency with a crunchier bite.
- Viennese nougat: The Viennese nougat is also called German nougat. What’s special about this candy? The use of chocolate and hazelnut! It doesn’t look like the typical nougat like the other two, but it sure is delicious.
The Many Faces of Nougat Candy
Let’s explore the various nougat candies around the world!
Italian’s “Torrone”, which directly translates as “to toast”, represents how the nuts are toasted when making nougat.
- Classic White Nougat: It is made out of traditional ingredients such as egg whites, honey and almonds. You can never go wrong with this dessert!
- Torrone di Benevento: Originating from the city of Benevento, this Italian region is famous for their nougat. In this region, they use liquid sugar, pine nuts and compote. It gives a distinct taste, different from the traditional white nougat candy. Back then, nougat was considered strictly as a Christmas gift for noble families and the clergy. Thanks to the noble Borboni family, nougat is now accessible for everyone!
- Torrone di Calabria: In Calabria, their take on nougat is unique. We’re used to common ingredients such as egg whites and honey, but their recipe is different. Torrone in Calabria uses citrus honey, sugar, almonds, cinnamon and cloves. It creates a flavour that you can’t resist!
Typically, nougat (or “Turrón”) is consumed during the Christmas season in Spain, but it is also a wonderful sweet to eat as an afternoon snack! Let’s explore.
- Turrón de Alicante: In the Spanish province of Alicante, they are best-known for their hard nougat candy. To create a tough texture, the nougat must be firm. It is mixed in with honey and Marcona almonds (roasted), which is a regional specialty. Placed in between two wafer sheets, each bite is crunchy and packed with flavour!
- Turrón de Jijona: For more of a traditional take, nougat from Xixona is made out of almonds, egg whites and honey. Actually, this recipe originated from re-using the leftovers from Turrrón di Alicante! After mixing all of these ingredients together, it is cooked to perfection.
- Turrón de Nata y Nueces: Directly translated as “nougat cream and nuts”, turrón de nata y nueces is made with cream, walnuts, almonds and sugar. Giving justice to its name, this nougat candy is velvety and smooth, with a crunchy texture. Similar to this dessert, there is another variation where it is prepared with marzipan and candied fruit.
In Germany, their nougat is called “Nuss-Nougat Rohmasse”, which directly means “nut nougat raw mass”. This is a staple filling for other German confections and desserts. The nuss-nougat rohmasse is made out of roasted hazelnuts, dark chocolate and sugar. Usually, bakers opt for cocoa butter, but some may use regular butter. Its consistency is somewhere in between soft and hard which makes it malleable enough to be rolled in preferred shapes. The German nougat sweets can either be consumed as itself, or used as a fondant on cakes and fillings for marzipan chocolates.
Perhaps one of the oldest nougat is the Iranian nougat. “Gaz” is a delicacy with rich roots. It’s appearance is unique and beautiful, definitely a dessert to impress at parties! It originates from Isfahan (a province in Central Iran). Its name refers to the Persian gaz-angebin, which translates to “sap of angebin”. Angebin is a unique tree that is abundant in the Zagros Mountains of Isfahan. People felt that gaz was reminiscent of the sap of the angebin tree, hence its name. Similar to most Iranian desserts, gaz has strong flavours of rosewater, or saffron, depending on the producer. It is a common dessert served during the Iranian New Year.
Peru’s own variation of nougat is called “Doña Pepa Turron”. This confectionery is only available and prepared during the month of October. It is the month to celebrate Señor de los Milagros (the Lord of Miracles). Legend says Doña Pepa was an African slave who was freed because of a paralysisin her arms. She went to attend the special procession in Lima in front of the mural painting. Being there, she healed from her paralysis. The day after she made the nougat and offered it to the devotees, telling about the miracle. Unlike the typical nougat, Doña Pepa Turron uses ingredients such as wheat flour, sesame seeds, mixed fruits and cloves. To top it all off, it is garnished with colourful sprinkles. It is truly one of a kind!
Given the Spanish influence, the Philippines have a similar nougat called “Turrones de Casoy”. This Pampanga delicacy is a nougat wrapped in wafer paper. It is a reminder of Spain’s Turrón de Alicante, which is a nougat sandwiched with wafer sheets. The preparation of this Filipino nougat is traditional. They use common ingredients such as egg whites, honey and almond. This is a sweet snack that every Filipino remembers eating during their childhood!
The Puerto Rican nougat is called “Turrón de Ajonjolí”. Their nougat candy is prepared with toasted black and white sesame seeds. To heighten the flavours, cinnamon powder and lemon juice are added into the cane sugar and honey mix. In other versions, sesame seeds are substituted with almonds, sunflowers seed or coconut.
In Cuba, their nougat speciality is a peanut nougat candy called “Turrón de Maní”. There are two ways to prepare this snack: soft and hard. The soft version contains finely chopped peanuts mixed in with brown sugar. The other version is hard, using whole peanuts with caramelized sugar and honey. Both nougat candies are cut into bars, making it a perfect afternoon snack.
Greece also has their own nougat delicacy: “Mandolato”! It is a traditional dessert from the Ionian islands including Corfu, Zakynthos and Kefalonia. Usually made with egg whites, honey and almonds. In some variations, other ingredients are added into the mix to create different flavours, and are even sandwiched in between wafer sheets (similar to the Spanish and Filipino nougat).
What a list! Nougat comes in various flavours, textures and shapes. There is a type of nougat suited for everybody. If you’re craving for nougat candy, make sure to look for this sweet treat near you! Happy eating!