I learned this nougat while working on the Bouchon Bakery cookbook, wherein executive pastry chef Sebastien Rouxel makes a version for the bakery. I've simplified his recipe for the home kitchen (corn syrup instead of glucose and no cocoa butter, which he uses to get a cleaner cut). But it all basically comes down to the temperature you cook the sugar to; because it's added hot to the egg whites, it ultimately cooks the whites and becomes a foamy white candy into which nuts and fruit are stirred. I love the combination of pistachio, almond, cashew, and cherry, but virtually any toasted nuts or dried fruits can be used.
- 3 cups/600 grams plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/3 cup/100 grams light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup/120 milliliters water
- 1 cup/300 grams high-quality honey, preferably local to you
- 3 egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- 3 to 4 cups toasted unsalted nuts and dried fruit (a mixture of almonds, cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts, dried cherries, cranberries, or anything else you choose)
Combine the 3 cups/600 grams sugar, corn syrup, and water in a high-sided saucepan, bring to a simmer, and cook till it reaches 298˚F/148˚C, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
In a small saucepan, bring the honey to a simmer and cook it till it reaches 257˚F/125˚C. Remove the pan from the heat.
Place the egg whites and salt in the clean bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on high speed. Once a foam has begun to form, add the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Continue to beat the eggs until firm, glossy peaks form, 3 to 5 minutes.
Reduce the mixer speed to medium-high and slowly pour in the warm honey. Whip the whites for a few more minutes. Slowly pour in the cooked sugar mixture and continue mixing until the mixture cools to the point that you can hold your hand against the bowl, 15 to 20 minutes.
Replace the whisk attachment with a paddle attachment and paddle in the nuts and fruit.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease it generously with butter. Lay another sheet of parchment on top and rub it well, so that both sheets are equally well buttered, then set aside the top sheet. Butter a rubber spatula or coat it with nonstick baking spray, and scrape the nougat into the center of the buttered parchment on the baking sheet. Cover it with the second buttered sheet of parchment. Use a rolling pin to roll the nougat out to about 1 inch/2.5 centimeters thick. Allow it to cool completely, several hours or overnight, then slice into strips (about 1 by 1/2 by 6 inches/2.5 by 1 by 15 centimeters). This will keep for a week in an airtight container.