Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Cookbook Challenge - Week 6 - Christmas - White Chocolate, Cranberry and Almond Nougat

Bill Granger's Holiday was sure to yield the perfect Christmas recipe, and browsing through the pages I was not disappointed. I was hoping for a "make and take" type recipe as I wasn't hosting any Christmas events at home, and didn't want to attend any empty handed.

Ready for transport

My local supermarket had all of the ingredients I needed, however tracking down a candy thermometer proved more difficult - 4 stores later, that was sorted too.

I was slightly fearful that this nougat recipe may not be achievable without a sacrificial pot, but it was actually easier than I thought it would be, as was the cleanup. I'd recommend having an extra hand around as it can be quite awkward to transfer the mixture to the pan to set, given it's thick, sticky and also hot.

Bill's recipe called for dried cherries, but I didn't even bother to look for them, as I prefer dried cranberries, already had some on hand from the shortbread I made earlier in the week, and Bill suggests they'll also work well.

What you'll need to make 45 pieces

Edible rice paper
2 cups caster sugar
1 cup glucose syrup
1/2 cup honey (the honey flavour comes through quite strongly so pick your favourite)
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
2 egg whites
125g blanched almonds, lightly toasted
150g white chocolate, chopped
100g dried cherries or cranberries

How to do it

Lightly grease a 20 x 30cm baking tray and line with sheets of rice paper.  I  had the right size pan, but didn't really need one that big, maybe I like my nougat thicker than Bill, but I didn't spread it the full length of the pan. Put the sugar, glucose, honey and vanilla in a large heavy based saucepan, and cook, stirring constantly over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. I think I had it too low, as this step took forever!

Bring to the boil, and then boil without stirring, until the mixture reaches 142 degrees Celsius (275F) on a candy thermometer. Bill suggests brushing down the sides of the saucepan with a wet pastry brush to remove any sugar crystals which may form, but I didn't need to to this as no crystals formed.

Meanwhile, beat the egg whites in a large clean bowl until firm peaks form. While beating, very slowly pour the hot syrup in a thin stream into the egg white. If you don't have a stand mixer, you will need a hand with this step - since I broke my mixer, and my borrowed one didn't have a stand I couldn't do this by myself.

Continue to beat until the mixture is thick, and holds it shape (2-8 minutes)

Once the mixture can hold its shape, stop beating or it will thicken too much and become like toffee. Gently warm the nuts in a dry pan, and stir into the mixture with the chocolate and dried fruit.

Pour the mixture into the tin and place a layer of rice paper over the top. Leave to set overnight and then cut into squares or bars with a hot, wet knife.

This was a great hit at both Christmas parties, and surprised me in how much easier it was to make than I expected. I was told many times that it was the best nougat people had ever had, and that the cranberries were so much better than traditional cherries, so I definitely recommend making this. I'll definitely make this again next Christmas, and maybe before then! Thanks Bill!


  1. It is simple to make! I just need to get one of those sugar thermometers. you have lucky friends!

  2. penny, I couldn't believe how easy it was, yet everyone believes it's hard so it's very impressive when you tell people you made it yourself! The thermometers aren't expensive, but call first to see if there's any in stock. I trudged around the shopping centre for ages trying to find someone who had one.

  3. The nougat looks super impressive. I have always thought it would be really difficult to make and I get scared off with the need to take temperature of things!! :)

  4. I've been dying to try nougat and have always been too scared myself. Where did you find the ricepaper, I might give it a go now that you make it sound so easy if I can find the paper?

  5. Who puts the info out there that things like this are hard to make? I think we need to get a mob together and string them up! I assumed it would be a disaster, yet was so easy. But I think you definitely need the thermometer.

    I picked up the rice paper at my local supermarket - if you can't find it in yours, try a continental supermarket or deli.

  6. I found rice paper at continental deli in Perth WA. But also saw it in Kitchenwarehouse if it helps.


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