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What is nougat?


Nougaty History
Traditional nougat comes in brown and white varieties.
Traditional nougat comes in brown and white varieties.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Nougat, in one form or another, has been around for quite sometime. It first gained widespread popularity in 17th century-France, though many scholars believe its origins can be dated back several centuries or even millennia before that time.

The Italians refer to nougat as torrone, and it's known as turrĂ³n in Spain. Nougat is generally considered a French treat (it's a French word descended from the Latin term for nut) and can be found in white and brown variations.

White nougat is made by adding honey, sugar and nuts to thoroughly beaten egg whites. It's soft and sweet with a denser body and more potent flavor than the synthetic nougat found in candy bars. Brown nougat contains no egg product and relies on honey or caramelized sugar for its base, which gives it a darker color. This kind of nougat is more brittle than its lighter cousin. Dried fruit and chocolate can be found in either variety of nougat, though the confection is often enjoyed on its own.

Because nougat contains so few ingredients, it's easy to redefine its flavor by making a few minor changes. White nougat containing pistachios, for example, will affect your taste buds differently than a version made with almonds. Of course, the principal ingredients remain the same, so it's not going to be a radically dissimilar experience, but a little change can go a long way. Consider the differences found in a box of assorted chocolate candies to get an idea of what we're talking about.


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