This version of Italian nougat mixes cherries and almonds with the classic pistachios. Traditionally, Italian nougat is rolled between sheets of edible wafer paper. I prefer to leave the paper off, making the candy easier to cut into even pieces for serving or to chop into misshapen pieces and fold into or sprinkle over ice cream. This is a fairly labor-intensive recipe, but it’s worth the effort. The nougat keeps well and makes a beautiful and very special gift.–Karen DeMasco
LC Torrone By Any Other Name Note
Italian nougat is traditionally called torrone, and you’ll find it in many stores year round, many more stores at the holidays.
Nut and Cherry Nougat
1 H, 25 M
Makes about 50 squares
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Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch. Pour the cornstarch mixture into a fine-mesh sieve and liberally sprinkle some over a 12 x 17-inch baking sheet. Set aside the sieve with the remaining cornstarch mixture.
Spread the pistachios and almonds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and toast in the oven for 5 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the nuts inside to keep warm. Put the honey in a small heat-resistant bowl and place that in the turned-off oven as well.
Put 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the corn syrup and 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar into a small saucepan and stir to make sure all of the sugar is damp. Attach a candy thermometer to this pan.
Put the remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons corn syrup and 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar into another small saucepan and stir to make sure all of the sugar is damp. Put both pans over high heat. (This is a very small amount of sugar to cook, so use the smallest saucepans you have. If the sugar is too shallow to be measured by your candy thermometer, use the cooking times mentioned below as a guide, and when you think the sugar is hot enough, tilt the saucepan so you can hold the thermometer in the syrup to check the temperature. If the sugar gets a little too hot, simply pull the saucepan off the heat and wait for it to cool to the correct temperature before adding it to the egg whites. This works only if the sugar has not yet begun to turn to caramel. If it caramelizes, you have cooked it for too long and will have to start over.)
Put the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Set the whisk attachment so that the whisk drops down to touch the bottom of the bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add the remaining 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of the sugar to the egg whites. Leave the mixer running while the sugar in the saucepans continues to heat.
When the sugar in the saucepan fitted with the thermometer comes to 250°F (120°C), about 4 minutes, remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the thermometer to the second pan of sugar (continue to cook that pan of sugar). In a slow and steady stream, pour the first pan of sugar syrup down the side of the mixer bowl and into the whipping egg whites. When the second pan of sugar reaches 293°F (145°C) (about 2 more minutes), pour that sugar syrup down the side of the mixer bowl in a slow and steady stream. Increase the speed to high and whip until the egg white mixture turns white and thick, about 5 minutes. Then add the warm honey and the salt.
Turn the mixer off and switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the warm nuts and the cherries. Beat just until the nuts and cherries are evenly dispersed; then remove the bowl from the mixer. Scrape the nougat onto the prepared baking sheet. Sift enough of the cornstarch mixture over the top of the nougat to cover it liberally. With a rolling pin, roll the nougat until it is 3/4 inch thick and covers most of the baking sheet. Set the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool until the nougat is at room temperature, about 30 minutes.
Transfer the nougat to a cutting board. Using a knife lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray or butter, cut the nougat into 1 1/2-inch squares. The nougat will keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 weeks.
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Nut and Cherry Nougat Recipe © 2009 Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox. Photo © 2009 Ellen Silverman. All rights reserved. All materials used with permission.