Friday, December 4, 2015

Vanilla and Olive Oil Nougat with Macadamia Nuts

For as long as I can remember, every gift I've ever given my father, has involved nougat. He can't get enough of the stuff and can devour an entire stash in one sitting. No surprises as to who I get my sweet tooth from (she says as she licks her sticky nougat fingers in order to type this post)! 

This Christmas I've decided that I'm making all my own gifts, mainly because: 
1) It's cheaper.
2) I get to eat the 'off-cuts'.
3) Nougat tastes better than socks.
4) Nougat is more thoughtful (than socks).
5) Boney M doesn't play on repeat in my kitchen. 

So I'm making a gigantic batch of nougat - for not just my dad but the whole family. 
You get nougat! You get nougat! Everybody gets nougaaaaat!

Like all my favourite things, this one is versatile - you can pretty much design your own according to your - I mean your friends' - taste. I went for a fancy-sounding but uber delicious combination of vanilla, honey, macadamia nuts and proper extra virgin olive oil. I know we think of olive oil as great for salads and drizzling over literally everything savoury (a la Jamie Oliver) but I'm telling you that good olive oil adds something really special to desserts, not only adding complexity but balancing the sweetness too. I used Olive Pride's Extra Virgin Olive Oil in my nougat since it has a lovely peppery flavour that is just heavenly with the vanilla and honey. 

Nougat has always intimidated me a bit, I'm not going to lie. In fact, the last time I made it was probably in cooking school (eek!). But this recipe right here is gold! If you don't already have a sugar thermometer, then get yourself one as a Christmas gift because it is totally worth not running around the kitchen going 'Is it ready? Maybe I should wait... No, it's ready. Or not." The only chicken that should be headless in your kitchen at this time of year, is the one in your oven for lunch. And speaking of gifts to yourself, would you not be the happiest sugar addict on this earth if you received this:

A folded tea towel, a vintage baking tray (or box), some wrapped up sticks of your homemade nougat and a pretty bottle of olive oil - winning! You can also win at the fabulous competition that Olive Pride is running; simply SMS 'Olive Pride' and the last 4 digits of the barcode to 46797. Not only do all the SMS proceeds go to BrightStars, a safe home for children but you can also win a R2000 shopping voucher plus a R500 hamper of yummy olive products. 

Now while you go win stuff, I'm going to find out how to get nougat off a Macbook keyboard...

Vanilla and Olive Oil Nougat with Macadamia Nuts
Makes 12 bars 

2 x A4 rice paper sheets
350g liquid glucose (available from baking and health shops)
115g honey
550g (2 ½ cups) caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
2 egg whites
50g unsalted butter
400g macadamia nuts, roasted

Line the base and sides of a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper. Cut the rice paper to fit the tin – place one in the bottom and keep the other aside for the top. Place the glucose, honey and vanilla in a saucepan over a low heat until melted, then add the caster sugar and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup is translucent.
Bring the syrup to the boil and simmer until it reaches 130 degrees celcius on a thermometer.
Start beating the egg whites in an electric mixer to form stiff peaks so that by the time the syrup reaches 140 degrees celcius you’re ready.
Gently pour the hot syrup down the side of the bowl into the stiffly-beaten egg whites in a steady stream.
Beat for 1 minute or until thick and glossy then gradually add the butter and olive oil.
Working quickly, stir in the nuts and spoon the mixture into the lined baking tray. Top with the remaining piece of rice paper and press down to form an even slab of nougat. Allow to cool and set completely for 2-3 hours.
Slice into bars or pieces using a sharp serrated knife and a sawing action.
Wrap the nougat immediately in baking paper, wax paper or cellophane and store in a cool dry place in an airtight container.

VARIATIONS: Experiment using different nuts – pistachios, almonds and pecan nuts would be equally delicious in this recipe!

Disclaimer: This post has been sponsored by Olive Pride who produce a delicious range of olive products, including the Extra Virgin Olive oil used in this post.

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