I love nougat. Actually, I love almost anything sweet, nutty, caramel-y and chocolatey, but that's besides the point. I love nougat and was thrilled to find a recipe for it on the Foodnetwork webpage by Jacques Torres, find it here: (http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_18050,00.html?rsrc=search).
I never made nougat before and this recipe looked like a challenge, but I'm all for that. So I tried it, loved it, and never looked back to buying nougat :o). And the only challenge left with this recipe, is cutting the nougat when ready. I'm telling you, it's a work out all by itsself.
Now there's this one little problem. As easily as you can buy corn syrup (one of the key ingredients in the recipe) in the US, I never expected it to be a problem here in the Netherlands. I bought it on vacation in the US a few times, armed with plastic bags and cushioning to not have the stuff spread all over my suitcase, but the nougat was all worth it. But of course I ran out of syrup very soon. I looked everywhere. Supermarkets, asian stores, markets, specialty stores, Turkish stores, you name it, I went there. Without any luck I might add. Finally, one store owner told me there was just 'no interest' in this product and no self-respecting import firm would buy it. I was perplexed. No interest? I am full of interest! But nothing helped. I went to the trusted friends and experts at the Fine Cooking message board, and Adele (thank you!) found me a substitute, for which you basically boil water and sugar to the soft ball stage. So I did. And it looked fine, until the syrup cooled and got a lot harder to handle than corn syrup with its pouring consistency. But hey, I had come this far, I wasn't about to give up.
I found another nougat recipe in a Martha Stewart magazine and bravely fought with the sugar syrup that was almost impossible to get out of its container. I made the nougat, fought another battle when it stuck to the pan, but all was forgotten when I tried it. It's not as good as the Torres recipe, but it's nougat, and what's not to love?
I got out my chocolate equipment, figured this was a good time to polish off those skills as well, and after another battle (the chocolate just did NOT want to behave and the nougat threatened to fall apart), this is the result:
Now I know you have to be in a very good mood to even call this 'rustic looking', but again, it's nougat :o). I think that after all the battling involved these little bars actually aren't half bad. I think a few people will be happy to share them with us, without judging their appearance. So long story short, I'll be making the sugar syrup again, as well as the Torres nougat recipe, and will be giving lots of it away as Christmas gifts. Properly cut and chocolate dipped, that is :o)