Turrón

Nougat

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I CAN’T IMAGINE CHRISTMAS WITHOUT NOUGAT. IT WOULD BE LIKE WAKING UP ON DECEMBER 25 AND STARING AT A COLD, EMPTY LIVING ROOM. WHEN I WAS A KID, DAD WOULD GO TO GREAT TROUBLE TO OBTAIN SPANISH NOUGAT. HE KNEW A SPANISH MAN WHO WOULD IMPORT A CONTAINER LOAD FROM SPAIN FOR ALL THE SPANISH EXPATRIATES IN MELBOURNE. DAD WOULD LOAD UP HIS BOOT AND DELIVER IT TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY IN NEARBY GEELONG. SWEET, SOFT, FLAVOURED WITH HONEY AND FULL OF TOASTED ALMONDS, NOUGAT IS SURPRISINGLY EASY TO MAKE WITH THE HELP OF AN INEXPENSIVE KITCHEN THERMOMETER — BUT SURPRISINGLY, MOST SPANIARDS DON’T. WHEN I GO BACK TO SEE MY FAMILY IN CÓRDOBA AT CHRISTMAS I VISIT MY FAVOURITE PASTRY SHOP NEAR THE ROMAN RUINS AND BUY AN ARMFUL AND GIVE THEM TO MY FAMILY. I SIT DOWN WITH MY AUNTIES AND SLOWLY EAT EACH DELICIOUS MORSEL AS I HEAR HOW WELL THE COUSINS ARE DOING IN THEIR BUSINESSES AND HOW THE NIECES AND NEPHEWS ARE DOING AT SCHOOL.

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Ingredients

  • 125 g ( oz/ cup) honey
  • 225 g (8 oz) glucose syrup
  • 190 g (6 3/4 oz. heaped ¾ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • rice paper, for lining
  • 200 g (7 oz/1⅓ cups) blanched almond kernels, toasted
  • grated zest of 1 lemon

Method

Place the honey and 175 g (6 oz/½ cup) of the glucose syrup in a small heavy-based saucepan. Stir over low heat until well combined, then cook until the temperature reaches 130°C (250°F) on a kitchen thermometer.

Meanwhile, put the sugar, remaining glucose syrup and 50 ml (½ fl oz) water in another small heavy-based saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then cook until the temperature reaches 170°C (325°F).

While the syrups are cooking, beat the egg whites using electric beaters until stiff peaks form. As soon as the honey syrup reaches 130°C (250°F), very slowly pour it into the egg whites, beating continuously. When the sugar syrup reaches 170°C (325°F), very slowly add it to the egg whites and continue beating until the mixture has cooled enough so that it is just hot, but not hot enough to burn you.

Lightly grease a 15 × 25 cm (6 × 10 inch) tray and line with rice paper.

Stir the almonds and lemon zest into the nougat mixture, then pour it into the prepared tray. Cover the top of the nougat with more rice paper, cutting the sheets to fit. Leave to stand until cool, then cut into 12 pieces. The nougat will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 month.