Posted on March 24, 2010
Nougat (pronounced /ˈnuːɡɪt/ NUH-gət or /ˈnuːɡɑː/ NOO-gah (Commonwealth) or /ˈnuːˌɡət/ NOO-ɡət (US)) is a term used to describe a variety of similar traditional confectioneries made with sugar or honey, roasted nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, or hazelnuts are common), and sometimes chopped candied fruit. The consistency of nougat can range from chewy to hard depending on its composition, and it is used in a variety of candy bars and chocolates.
There are two basic kinds of nougat: white and brown. White nougat (which appeared in Montélimar, France, in the 18th century) is made with beaten egg whites and is soft, whereas brown nougat (called nougatine in French) is made with caramelized sugar and has a firmer, often crunchy texture.
In southern Europe, where it is likely to have originated, nougat is largely associated with the Christmas season.
It is also enjoyed in Australasia and the Far East, where it is sold as a gourmet confection. Golden Boronia, Mondo Nougat, and Flying Swan are the most widely known manufacturers in Australasia specializing in the production of European style nougat all year round as opposed to the many European manufacturers which treat the product as a seasonal specialty. The popularity of nougat in Australasia has primarily been driven by the Australian Manufacturers as well as some imported varieties from South Africa and Europe.
Turron, a candy related to the traditional French nougat, is produced in Spain (turrón, or, in Catalan, torró), in Cremona, Taurianova and Sicily in Italy (where it is called torrone, though the most famous Sicilian nougat is called “cubbaita”), Greece (where it is known as “mandolato”), Malta (where it is known as “qubbajd” and sold in village festivals).
The “nougat” used as an ingredient in many modern candy bars in the United States and United Kingdom is different from traditional recipes, being a mixture of sucrose and corn syrup aerated with a whipping agent such as egg white or hydrolyzed soya protein or gelatine. It may also have vegetable fats and milk powder added, and is typically combined with nuts (usually peanuts), caramel or chocolate. In contrast, some American confections feature such “nougat” as the primary component, rather than one of several. Three Musketeers, Milky Way, Double Decker, Mars, Snickers, Toblerone, Salted Nut Rolls, Reese’s Fast Break, Reese’s Whipps, and Baby Ruth all use different types of the confection.
Spanish turrón follows the traditional recipes with toasted almonds, sugar, honey, and egg whites. Torrone from Italy includes these same basic ingredients as well as vanilla or citrus flavoring, and is often sandwiched between two very thin sheets of rice paper. In the Venetian town of Cologna Veneta is produced mandorlato, always based on honey, sugar, egg whites and almonds (mandorle in Italian) but with a different taste and harder to bite than torrone.
Australian nougat is produced by a similar method to French nougat but usually has a 50% almond, it can contain Macadamia nuts, apricots, or other texture modifiers. The Mudgee Nougat company are making a pistachio and cranberry variety. The nougat is commonly produced in two varieties: soft and crunchy. During candy making, this is done by heating a sugar solution to different temperatures before folding in egg whites and honey.
“Wiener (Viennese) Nougat”, or, in German, “Schmelz-Schokolade” (molten chocolate) is a variant which contains only sugar, cocoa butter, almonds, and cocoa mass, and has a mellow consistency. In Germany, gianduia is traditionally called nougat.
Persian nougat, known as gaz, is a variety that has been produced in Isfahan, Iran for many centuries by Ashrafi Gaz, Sekkeh Gaz and other traditional producers. It contains the sugary extract of the root of Tamarix.
A special kind of Gaz is referred to as Nogha (نوقا) in Persian. Nogha is almost exclusively made with walnuts instead of pistachios & almonds which are usual for other types of Gaz. The making of Nogha is very much the same as any other Gaz. The difference is that Nogha is usually spread between two very thin layers of wafers and cut into 10x5x5cm sections which are larger than ordinary Gaz cubes.
There are two types of African nougat, or nougati, ranging from the white kurtzati to the black baxtiti, and mainly containing fruits rather than nuts. The higher fruit-to-nut ratio can be most prominent in the brown simchati nougat variety.