Torrone — Italian nougat — has been made in one form or another since the time of ancient Rome. It’s a mixture of honey, egg whites, vanilla and roasted nuts, usually eaten around Christmas, but can be enjoyed anytime.
2 large egg whites
pinch of salt
150 ml water
120 ml honey
625 ml granulated sugar
1 T vanilla extract
75 g pistachios, roasted, skinned
75 g hazelnuts, roasted, skinned
75 g candied ginger
Line a 9″ x 13″ pan with plastic wrap, making sure there is some excess on all sides. In a large saucepot heat the water, sugar and honey until it reaches 143°C on a candy thermometer. A big pot helps because the mixture will expand and foam. The bigger the pot the less chance of spills. Hot sugar burns are some of the worst.
Meanwhile, beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer until frothy. Turn the mixer to medium and slowly add the hot sugar syrup. At this point add the vanilla extract, and mix on high speed for about a minute.
The next step is to take this syrup and egg white mixture, and transfer it to a double boiler to cook out some of the moisture. (Nougat is great, but it starts to be a pain about now. It firms up and becomes difficult to scrape out of the mixing bowl. It’s also sticks to whatever it touches. Best to work quickly.) Stir the nougat in the double boiler until the mixture comes off the bottom of the bowl easily. Remove from the heat, then stir in the nuts and ginger. Again, work as quickly as possible, because the warmer the mixture is, the easier it will be to stir.
Transfer the nougat to the prepared pan, smoothing it down evenly. Place a piece of parchment paper on the top. Fold the excess plastic wrap over the parchment paper, and leave to cool. I eventually put the pan in the refrigerator to make it easier to cut. A good serrated knife helps. Cut slowly to get cleanly through the hazelnuts and pistachios.
January 17th, 2010
I have to admit that I’m not entirely convinced about the combination of dark chocolate and roses. Rosewater and pistachio nougat — absolutely — that is a traditional Middle Eastern dessert. Nougat and chocolate — sure, why not. I think I’ve seen chocolate coated nougat before. It’s basically chocolate and marshmallow flavours. That said, there is a chocolate bar I recall from the far past called a ‘Big Turk’ which was chocolate-coated Turkish Delight. I just did a search on it and it’s actually still being made by Nestlé. Who knew?
Perhaps if the cake was made with white chocolate? I will try that in the future.
Anyway, following are the recipes for each of the components of this plate.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
The ubiquitous ‘molten chocolate cakes’ that still exist on many restaurant menus. This recipe is from a restaurant I used to work at.
1 lb bittersweet chocolate
¾ lb unsalted butter
1 ¼ lbs sugar
8 large eggs
8 egg yolks
1 oz orange liquor
4 tablespoons cornstarch
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and melt it with the butter in a bain marie. Meanwhile combine the sugar and cornstarch in one bowl and whisk the eggs and egg yolks in another bowl.
I use a stand mixer for this. First put the melted chocolate and butter mixture into the mixing bowl with a whisk attachment. Start the mixer on slow speed. Slowly add the sugar and cornstarch to the mixing bowl. Once that is well incorporated with the butter and chocolate, gradually add the egg mixture, and finally the shot of orange liquor.
Mix the lot until it looks glossy and paler in colour. It will also bulk up somewhat.
I use this to make individual small cakes. Basically take some ringmolds and butter and flour them. Then use a collar of parchment paper to line the inside. This may be overkill. Using either parchment paper collars or butter/ flour should be good enough to make for a non-stick result. Put the prepared ringmolds on a baking pan lined with a silicon mat, or a sheet of parchment paper. Scoop about 4 to 6 oz of chocolate batter into the ringmolds and bake at 375°F for about 20 mins.
The idea is to see a raw circle in the centre about the size of a silver dollar. When you re-heat the cake later, the centre will still be slightly wet, hence the ‘molten’ in molten chocolate cake.
Rosewater Ice Cream
5 T rosewater
1 vanilla bean
2 ½ cups 18% table cream
2 large eggs
120 g sugar
dried rose petals
Split the vanilla pod and place the pod and seeds with the cream in a pot. Heat until the mixture just comes to the boil.
Meanwhile in a bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together then slowly add the hot cream to the egg mixture. Beat this constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.
Remove the vanilla pod and place everything back in the pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens slightly to the consistency of a light custard. Do not boil the mixture or the eggs will curdle.
Pour the lot into a bowl and refrigerate until well-chilled. Add the rosewater and rose petals and process in an ice-cream machine.
Something about the texture of this ice cream reminded me of Indian ice cream, aka kulfi. 5 tablespoons of rosewater is enough to let the flavour burst through, but you may want to add an extra tablespoon-or-two if you really love rosewater.
Pistachio Nougat…recipe posted later…
June 15th, 2008