I must be the only person on the planet who is quite happy they weren't at Woodstock. Not that I was even born or anything, but you know what I mean. I would be dirty and disgusting and tired. That's not the problem, I have been there many times. More importantly, I would be bored stiff, out of my mind in fact.
I have minimal interest in music. I appreciate songs for their association with personal events, rather than for themselves. It's a genetic quirk because noone in my family likes music much either. We had two albums to our name when I was growing up. One was Aker Bilk, which my Dad played occassionally. And the other was bagpipes from the Edinburgh Military Tattoo which my Mum played once in a blue moon.
What does this have to do with the nougat you see before you? Well, nothing, but I am so tired of people going on and on about Woodstock. If I hear that Marcia Hines (a deadly dull Australian Idol judge) was there ONE more time, my eyes are going to stay permanently rolled at the back of my head!!!!
Breathing...... breathing......okay, rant over. Thanks for listening.
Now, this nougat. I love nougat. Along with honeycomb, it is probably my favourite sweet. I have tried to make it before with no success at all. A big pan of super sticky runny mess.
But when I saw this recipe in a Delicious magazine supplement, I decided to try again. Apparently, the recipe comes from the Chocolat Cafe in Cairns. I have never been there, but I will make a beeline if I ever get to Cairns again.
I was just delighted when it set. The fact that it tasted so good was an added bonus. My favourite nougat combination is pistachio and cranberry. Cranberry cuts through the sweetness to give a delicious sharp tang. It is just yum!
There are a few important things to know when making nougat. You need the motor power of a stand mixer. This mixture is way to thick for a hand mixer. You have to get it into the pan and smoothed out lickety split, because it starts to stiffen almost instantaneously. Do not get your fingers involved in any way until it is well cooled. Do not store in a jar like this - it will all sink down together into one immovable mass. The story I could tell!!
(adapted from delicious cafe food supplement)
edible rice paper
1/2 cup honey
1 cup liquid glucose
350gm castor sugar, plus extra 30gm
2 egg whites
45gm copha, melted*
125gm nuts, chopped
60gm candied or dried fruit, chopped
Line a 16cm x 26cm non-stick slab pan with baking paper overhanging on all the edges. Line the base with edible rice paper.
Place honey, glucose, sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook uncovered and without stirring until the mix reaches 120C. Continue boiling the mix.
At this stage, whisk the egg whites in a stand mixer (important!!) to firm peaks. Slowly beat in the 30 gm of extra sugar. Continue beating until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Fill the sink with 5cm of cold water.
Once the sugar mix has reached 140-143C (hard crack stage) remove from the heat, and dip the saucepan base into the cold water for 5 seconds or until the bubbles subside.
With the beater on a medium-slow speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites in a thin steady stream. Once the syrup is incorporated slowly add the copha. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 2-3 minutes until thick and glossy.
Working quickly, mix in the nuts and fruit and tip into the lined pan. Smooth the surface, lay over edible rice paper and press gently. (Do not get your fingers involved with the nougat as the mixture will still be very hot and very sticky!!!)
Set aside and leave to cool for six hours. Lift from the pan and cut into pieces.
* Copha is solidified coconut oil. It comes as a white block packaged like butter. When melted it goes clear. Other names include Kremelta or Palmin.