Blog: Defining Dessert | The French Pastry School

Blog: Defining Dessert

Defining Dessert
The French Pastry School |
July 5, 2012

L'Art du Blog

Nougat

The most ancient desserts were often simple sweets found in nature: fruit, honey, and nuts.  Nougat’s true history is unclear but, when cave paintings from 8,000 B.C. show people harvesting honey – one of nougat’s main ingredients - it’s tempting to say that some version of the confection is one of humanity’s oldest candies.

As with many other sweets, the recipe has evolved over the years, staying true to its original concept while adapting to new regions.  France has nougat, the beautiful, chewy white candy made with whipped egg whites and honey syrup that is studded with toasted nuts and dried fruits.  Spain has turrón, an almond-based confection with honey that can be served whole and brittle or ground into a soft paste.  Italy has torrone, a treat served mostly during the holidays made with almonds, hazelnuts or pistachios.  Other similar iterations include Persian gaz, Middle Eastern halva, and Czech Turecký med.

The recipe for French nougat was finally standardized because of its huge popularity in a small town in the southeast of France.  Located on the main route from Paris to the Mediterranean seaside, Montelimar was the site of frequent pit-stops – looking to escape the traffic for a few precious moments, out-of-towners got a taste of their local specialty: nougat de Montelimar.  In order to receive the title of Montelimar nougat, the recipe must include precisely 16% honey, 28% blanched almonds, and 2% hulled pistachios.

The French Pastry School makes many versions depending on the season (and what we’re craving) but our most popular version is the chocolate nougat with tart, dried cherries and lightly toasted pistachios.