I’m no stranger to nougat. I eat an embarrassing amount of Toblerone every Christmas and I’ve been known to enjoy a Charleston Chew or two. So yeah, I definitely wasn’t a nougat virgin when I went to Paris. But then I had the nougat at Angelina’s, and while I’m trying not to get all Madonna about it, it did feel like the first time. I took one bite and I was hooked…and then I was sick – It’s never a good idea to eat a ton of nougat in one sitting. Recognizing my growing dependency, I stocked up on the stuff before I left Paris, but after a long Canadian winter of eating my feelings, my Parisian nougat reserves are now nonexistent. Since there is no sense in crying over eaten nougat, I decided to learn how to make my own. Today’s Chewy Cherry Pistachio Nougat is my first attempt.
I’m not going to lie to you, making nougat is an intense experience. I think I held my breath through the entire process. It’s a miracle I remained conscious. There are a lot of hot things, delicate things, and time-sensitive things. Basically, all the building blocks of a spectacular panic attack. There’s also the danger of ruining expensive cookware, you know, just to up the ante.
At this point, you’re probably thinking “Why is this crazy lady asking me to put my Paderno and sanity on the line to make candy I don’t really need?” Well, it’s mainly for the smugness. Yeah, when I actually succeeded in making candy in my own kitchen with my own two miraculously unscathed hands, I felt good and smug. I want you to experience that too, so here we go.
You’re going to be appalled – appalled! – at how much sugar is going into this Cherry Pistachio Nougat. Consider this to be a learning moment. When candy bars come in fun, distracting packaging it’s easy to lose sight of what you’re actually consuming. Again, I’m really not trying to deter you, just be prepared to give half the batch away out of disgust… and then regret it when you run out of yours.
Make sure you have all your ingredients and equipment prepped and ready to go before you turn on a burner or whisk a whisk. Once you jump aboard this nougat train, it won’t stop for anything. You’re going to have to move like a well-oiled machine. And speaking of oil, make sure you grease everything to high heaven: The spatula you will use to stir in the nuts, the pan you want the nougat to set up in, and opt for the ever-slick wax paper for wrapping purposes. You can wrap the finished candies in pretty, shiny foil but, for the love of God, start with a layer of wax paper. If you don’t, you will essentially be stuck with the most frustrating candy of all time – that’s not what candy’s supposed to be about.
One final note before I send you off to conquer this Chewy Cherry Pistachio Nougat, you’re going to feel sticky after you make this. Your counters will be sticky; your cookware will be sticky; you will be sticky. Even after you shower, there is a chance you will still feel sticky. I don’t want you to enter into this project with any illusions to the contrary. So embrace the stickiness and make this nougat your b*tch.
- 1 cup frozen sweet cherries
- 1/3 cup water
- 3 egg whites, room temperature
- 1 cup liquid honey
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup liquid glucose or light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon cherry flavoring
- 1/8 -1/4 teaspoon red liquid gel food coloring, optional
- 1 cup unsalted roasted pistachios
- *Be sure you have a reliable candy thermometer before starting this recipe.
- Place frozen cherries and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer. Leave the cherries to cook until they leach most of their juices. About 10 minutes.
- Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the cherry mixture. Press the cherries against the fine mesh strainer to squeeze out any remaining juice. Discard the solids. You should have roughly 1/2 cup of cherry juice. Set aside.
- Pour the honey into a saucepan. Place a candy thermometer in the honey and place the sauce pan on the stove. Do not turn on the burner.
- Combine sugar, corn syrup, cherry juice, and cherry flavoring in another saucepan and place it on the stove without turning on the heat.
- Pour the egg whites into a stand-mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip the eggs until medium peaks form. Stop the mixer.
- Turn the heat on under the honey. Bring the honey to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer the honey until the candy thermometer reaches 250 F. Do not stir the honey at any point while it's heating. This will cause it to crystallize. Remove the honey from the heat immediately.
- Turn the mixer on high and pour the honey into the egg whites in a continuous stream. Try to avoid the edges of the mixing bowl and the whisk. Leave the egg whites to whip for 3 minutes after the last of the honey has been added.
- Rinse the candy thermometer and place it in the cherry/sugar mixture. Turn on the heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the candy thermometer reads 311 F. Do not stir the cherry mixture at any point while it's heating. This will cause it to crystallize.
- While the cherry mixture is simmering, stop the mixer and remove the whisk attachment. Replace it with the paddle attachment.
- Pour the cherry mixture into the egg whites in a continuous stream. Again, try to avoid hitting the sides of the mixing bowl and the paddle. Add the food coloring if using. Mix for 15 minutes at a high speed.
- Remove the mixing bowl and, using a greased rubber spatula, stir in the pistachios.
- Scoop the nougat into a greased 16 x 19-inch pan lined with wax paper. Place a sheet of wax paper over top of the nougat and, using a rolling pin, even out the nougat's surface.
- Let the nougat sit for 4 hours or overnight. Slice into bars or pieces using a well-greased knife. Wrap in wax paper followed by a fancy wrapper of your choice.