What is Nougat?

A sweet mixture adored by the world

Text:
Alexander Kuhlmann

Photography:
EcoFinia GmbH

26 July 2018

Anyone who loves nougat chocolate knows that once you fall for this sweet delicacy, it is a desire that is not easily avoidable. Whether as a nougat, torrone or turrón- the sweet cream is unbelievably popular worldwide, whether in praline or chocolate form, as a spread or even as a sweet addition to tea and coffee. What is nougat made of and how is it made?

First of all, it must be noted that Nougat is in fact not a chocolate. Rather, it is a mass of sugar, fat, and if you so desire almonds or hazelnuts. The nougat mixture also differs visually from the chocolate mixture. Nougat is a light brown coloring. If you add icing sugar and milk powder – as is particularly common in the far eastern cultures (White Nougat) – their coloring can even be creamy white. Thanks to its relatively high fat content, nougat has a particularly delicate melting effect and literally melts on the tongue.

How hazelnut nougat is made

The most popular type of nougat is probably the one made from hazelnuts and cocoa components. It goes back to old recipes from the Turin area and is commonly referred to as Gianduia nougat. It is the special roasted aromas of the nut-fruit that give the nougat its distinctive, and universally popular taste. This is why special attention should be paid to the roasting machine throughout the roasting process. Another important step is the careful harvesting of the nuts. Fluctuations in quality depends on the harvest and cannot be excluded- especially with untreated organic hazelnuts. Nevertheless, the fruit must be of a certain quality in order to be processed further.

After roasting, during which the moisture content of the hazelnuts is reduced to a minimum- the shells are then shifted out, leaving only the pure nut kernel. The cores are then crushed on special rolling machines and kneaded together with sugar, fat, cocoa butter and cocoa mass (possibly also milk powder) in a mixer to form the first real nougat mass. This is then followed by a fine rolling process, with the option of rolling an even coarser, finer mass. For further processing in chocolate, the finer variant is the preferred choice.

In a more complex process, the mass must now be heated and stirred. This is done in the so-called conche, which is also required for chocolate production. By tempering and long rubbing the individual particles during conching, a mass with a creamy-fine consistency is finally created. Depending on the degree of cocoa powder added, the final color of the nougat is now defined. If you want to make layered nougat, you can resort to cocoa-containing and less cocoa-containing mixtures. This results in the beautiful change of structure.

Hazelnut nation of Turkey

In general, this formula always applies: the more hazelnut, the higher the quality and firmness of the nougat. Especially when organic or Fairtrade nuts are used, there is a clear price difference to the conventional product. The main growing areas of hazelnuts are in Turkey, Greece and Italy. The USA has also devoted itself to cultivation – although primarily more conventional methods. Turkey is the main exporter of organic hazelnuts. In organic farming, storage protection by fumigation with the toxic substance methyl bromide is dispensed within. Also, the peels of the fruits are not bleached and thus retain their natural appearance.

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