Friday, July 2, 2010

Lemon and Almond Nougat (Torrone)

I found this recipe in the 40th Anniversary edition of the Gourmet Traveler, and I have adapted it slightly. I have only made it once (for the Alice Springs Show where it one first prize) and it tended to have a horizontal movement over a couple of days. Didn't look so great but tasted fab. So, I have adjusted the temperature of the toffee to 140 degrees.
When I was teaching Adult Literacy in Melbourne in the mid 1990's, my classes would often revert to discussions and writing exercises about food. I had one student who told me his father had adapted an electric drill to beat the nougat (torrone) for his mother as most stand beaters do not have powerful enough motors. I have a lovely red Kitchen Aid and it does the trick and has a gutsy motor. I would not suggest making the nougat with hand beaters unless there are two of you, and they are powerful hand beaters.
350 gm liquid glucose
180 gm local or fragrant honey
440 gm sugar
2 egg whites
vanilla bean paste
50gm butter
400 gm whole almonds (skinned and roasted)
75 gm glace lemons
4 sheets edible rice paper (available at East Side shop for those Alice Springs residents)

Stand beater
Baking tray (20cm X 30 cm)

1. Line the base of the baking tray (you will need to oil it first with a mild oil such as rice bran oil), including the sides.
2. Put honey, glucose, sugar and vanilla bean paste in saucepan and cook on medium heat until the temperature reaches 140 degrees. (NB. Original recipe says 120 to 131 degrees, so you may need to experiment). Wipe sugar grains from the sides of the saucepan with a wet pastry brush. Once the toffee reaches the required recipe, place the saucepan immediately in a cold wet basin to stop the toffee temperature from increasing.
3. In the meantime, whisk the egg whites in the beater until light and fluffy.
4. Pour toffee into the egg whites, being careful not to pour it directly on the beaters or the side of the bowl. Continue to beat for 5 minutes until the mixture is glossy.
5. Working quickly, mix through the almonds and glace lemon. It is important that both these ingredients are at room temperature.
6. Pour mixture into rice paper lined baking tray and flatten with wooden spoon to ensure it is even. Lay over another layer of rice paper.
7. Allow to rest for 6-8 hours before cutting. Cut with knife that has been in freezer for about a half hour or electric knife.