Enjoyed for centuries, Nougat is a classic confection made from honey, egg whites and almonds. Many countries claim parentage to this traditional delight. Variations are found in Italy, France, Spain and the Middle East, but its actual origins are obscure. Some trace it back to the Romans in the ancient writings of the Roman epicure, Apicius from 1st-century AD, whose notes were used for the ancient cookbook, De Re Coquinaria from the 4th-century AD. This describes a nut custard made of honey, walnuts and eggs. Or perhaps more likely, the Arabs, who have cultivated various types of nuts (almonds, pistachios, walnuts), honey and sugar for centuries. Most Middle Eastern recipes use nuts and honey without eggs. Yet a recipe with egg whites, called Hulwa, very similar to that of nougat is cited in the 15th-century eastern Islamic cookbook of Ibn al-Mabrad for both honey and sugar-based versions.
While there are literally dozens of variations, perhaps hundreds, they generally fall into soft and hard versions. This being adjusted by the ingredients and length of cooking time. Versions of nougat made with honey tend to be softer, while the sugar versions are harder, even brittle. There is even an American derivative version called divinity fudge, made from corn syrup.
Italy Nougat: Called Torrone in Italian, it is said to have been first created in Cremona, Lombardy for a wedding celebration of aristocrats in the 15th century. It was created in the shape of the bell tower of the Cremona cathedral, then known as the Torrazzo or Torrione—a possible origin of the name Torrone. The yearly Torrone Festival is held in Cremona. Found throughout Italy, noteworthy nougats are from Alba, Mombercelli and Novi Ligure in Piedmont (a hard version with hazelnuts), Siena, the Benevento, the Abruzzi and Calabria. The city of Caltanissetta, Sicily produces a delicious version with Arab roots, called “cubaita” and Sardinia’s version contains 100% Sardinian honey and no sugar.
France Nougat: Made in the Provence region since at least the sixteenth century. Known as ‘nogat’ in the Middle Ages. In Provence the name is said to come from ‘tu nous gates,’ or, ‘you spoil us.’ There are two types, the traditional crunchy black nougat made without eggs and the soft white nougat such as the famous Nougat de Montélimar, made with Lavender honey, almonds and pistachios in the ratio of at least 30% almonds, or 28% almonds and 2% pistachios, and 25% honey of the sugar content. The black and white nougats are part of the thirteen traditional desserts of a Provence Christmas. But lest you think these are the only nougats available, look here for many more.
Spain Nougat: Known as Turrón or Torró in Spain. It is believed to have been introduced by the Arabs, but has been made in Jijona (Xixona – Spanish) for more than 500 years. Produced primarily for the Christmas season, the two primary types are Jijona and Alicante. Both have PGI (Protected Geographical Indication). Turrón de Alicante is made of toasted almonds (Marcona almonds), pure honey (Orange Blossom or Rosemary honey), sugar and egg whites, and has creamy white color and a hard crunchy texture.
Turrón Jijona is produced by milling and heating Turrón de Alicante to produce a smooth paste with a texture similar to peanut butter and a similar golden brown color. The Turrón Museum in Jijona is dedicated to preserving the technological heritage of the production of Turrón and the history of this important economic product. Video of the Jijona turrón experience.
Iran (Persian) Nougat: A very popular candy, Gaz (گز) is the traditional name of Persian nougat originating from the city of Esfahan, located in the central plateau of Iran. The primary difference between this nougat and European kinds is the source of the sweetness. It isn’t from sugar or honey, but from the sweet, milky sap of the native desert plant called gaz-angebin, which translates to “sap of angebin”, a member of the Tamarisk family and native to the Zagros mountain range located to the west of the city. Other ingredients include pistachio or almond kernels, rosewater and egg whites.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License By Sémhur (Nougat de Montélimar).
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License By Victoria Reay (Belgian Nougat).
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License By Tamorlan (Turrón de Alicante & Turrón Jijona).
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License By Siti internet Verona (Torrone Cremona).
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License By Wikimedia User:Sidster (Gaz).