Candy-making isn't my strongest ability, which is just one of the many reasons why I love nougat. It's easy to make in a variety of ways: short ingredient list and requires only a few pieces of equipment (small pot, an electric mixer with a whip attachment, a working thermometer, and a 9x9 baking pan). Sugar syrup is cooked to the proper temperature, then poured into whipping egg whites. The whites and syrup whip up to together for a fluffy result that's somewhere between meringue and marshmallow. It's firm enough to slice once it's set, but soft enough that it's melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Best of all, you can easily add other ingredients to create different flavors - which makes it perfect for layering to make different combos. It makes a perfect treat for the candy lover in your life (especially if it's yourself). —Erin McDowell
Grease a 9x9 with nonstick spray (you can use an 8x8 pan too, the nougat will just be thicker). Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment.
Stir the sugar, corn syrup, water, and vanilla bean and its seeds together to combine. Place the pot over medium heat. Stir a few times just to ensure its combined. Once it starts to simmer, stop stirring. (If any sugar has washed up on the sides of the pot, use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash it back into the pot.)
Cook the mixture until it reads 235°F on a thermometer. When it does, start whipping the egg whites in the mixer on medium speed. Continue to cook the sugar syrup to 260°F, then add it to the egg whites in a slow, steady stream.
Once all of the syrup is added, whip for 4 minutes.
Pour into the prepared pan, and smooth into an even layer (I like to grease a small offset spatula with nonstick spray to make the spreading easier). Let cool/set for 3 hours, or up to overnight.
Prepare the second flavor of nougat as directed above. Pour on top of the first layer and smooth into an even layer. Let sit for at least 3 hours, or up to overnight.
Cut into 1x2 inch pieces and wrap in wax paper or cellophane. The pieces will keep for up to 3 months.
FLAVOR VARIATIONS Chocolate Nougat: Melt 4 ounces (113 g) unsweetened chocolate, and let cool slightly. Stir in 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract (and omit the vanilla bean). Add at the end of step 4, along with ¼ cup (28 g) powdered sugar, whipping just until it’s incorporated – do not overmix. Peanut Butter Nougat: Omit the vanilla bean. Add 8 ounces (226 g) smooth peanut butter, 1/3 cup (37 g) powdered sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract at the end of step 4, whipping just until it’s incorporated – do not overmix. Strawberry Nougat: Pulse 1 ½ ounces (35 g) freeze dried strawberries and ¼ cup (28 g) powdered sugar in a food processor until they form a fine powder. Add this mixture at the end of step 4, whipping just until it’s incorporated – do not overmix. (I like to leave the vanilla bean in!)
I always carry three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's pie. My first cookbook, The Fearless Baker, is out on October 24, 2017.