Nougat de Montelimar
Nougat is an aerated confection that comes in many styles, with a number of possible inclusions and flavor combinations. One of the most popular types is nougat de Montelimar which is named after a French town in the Provencal region of France. This area has an abundance of almond trees and has specialized in making nougat for hundreds of years. Nougat de Montelimar is based on a meringue made with a sugar syrup, honey, and the addition of almonds or pistachios.
As an aerated confection, the firm, chewy texture of nougat is achieved through both the formulation and the process of whipping a stable egg foam. The air incorporated through whipping the egg whites with the sugar syrups provides a lighter texture while the powdered sugar added at the end is used to induce crystallization and alter the texture. The addition of cocoa butter helps to soften and shorten the texture.
When making nougat de Montelimar, there are a few key things to look out for. First, in this formula, both whole, blanched almonds and pistachios are used. In order to retain their vibrant green color, do not toast the pistachios but do toast the almonds to deepen the flavor. Make sure to hold the almond/pistachio mixture in a warm place while making the nougat. This helps keep the nougat from cooling too quickly, making it easier to roll out. Second, before adding the sugar syrup into the whipping meringue, make sure to switch from the whip attachment to the paddle attachment. Because of the low moisture content in the syrup, the mixture becomes very thick. Lastly, after the nougat is set, cut using a sawing motion with a serrated knife to preserve the integrity of the nougat. Due its high sugar content, nougat is very hygroscopic. After cutting, the nougat can then be dipped fully or partially in chocolate or not at all. If it is only partially dipped, brush the exposed sides with cocoa butter to prevent moisture absorption. Store well wrapped in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.