Persian Nougat at last!

Persian nougat, done

Ah–victory at last! After miserable failed attempts, I made a successful batch of Persian (or Middle Eastern) nougat, thanks to the help of a friend with experience in candy making.

Persian nougat is a candy that I have longed to make for years. Similar to Italian torrone, yet substantially different in texture and flavor to merit distinction, it is a candy that is not sold in many places, nor is it a candy that is popular in recipe books. I know. I searched far and wide. And failed to find how to make it. But a reader here pointed me to a basic recipe for the nougat, and I quickly saved it to make with my friend R, who I knew would not lead me astray in candy making. I was sick of making mistakes. This time, with the actual recipe in hand, I had to have a perfect result!

I could TASTE the nougat in my mouth as I read the recipe. Oooooh.

I didn’t grow up with this candy but many members of my extended family did and this is a favorite snack in the household. I know why, because I have fallen in love with it–the nougat has brought joy and delight and consolation in many circumstances. It is just the best.

The initial recipe left out some crucial spices and ingredients (ooooh, it bugs me when cooks post recipes but leave out “secret ingredients,” secret ingredients that in this case are critical path), but the most crucial bit was documented: the main nougat part with the egg whites and sugar syrup. And you too, can fine tune the spices to your own tasting. I like to add a good amount of cardamom as well as rose water (generous amounts of cardamom and rose water), you might want to add different things such as orange blossom water instead.

I’ve posted the recipe below, with my own adjustments. I hesitated to post this, because this recipe is so precious and a part of me feels incredibly selfish, wants to keep it for herself! But no. This isn’t a family recipe, it was handed to me by a reader, and I pass it back to you, with good amendments.

The process is fairly straightforward–but like with all candymaking, precision is of the utmost importance. Take the sugar syrup to the precise temperature (next time, we’re going to take it a bit higher than we did this time, for a firmer nougat). Make sure the egg whites are stiff.

Boiling sugar syrup

And in stages, you’ll add the syrup to the egg whites. BE VERY CAREFUL. The sugar syrup will be beyond boiling temp, and you are pouring it into egg whites AS THEY ARE BEING WHISKED, so pour slowly, pour at a distance, pour out of the whisk’s way…or else you run the risk of it spattering.

Persian nougat in progress

Add your spices and rose water…then put into a shallow dish and let cool.

This nougat wasn’t as fluffy as the nougat from the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, and in fact I was initially disappointed in the dense texture of this nougat. However, according to a good source, this resembles the nougat out of Baghdad. A true compliment, as my source grew up in Baghdad and he said this candy reminded him of his childhood.  This is real “baba khadrasi!” he cried out with a smile.  He was the reason I sought out this recipe, really–and I was glad to make him happy.

Persian nougat!

I hope you enjoy the recipe and if you make some, enjoy the nougat, too. My next ambition is to make some Korean candy…and also to figure out how to make this nougat without using corn syrup (yes, it’s a listed ingredient).

Basic recipe follows after the jump…

Persian/Middle Eastern nougat

Ingredients:

* 2 cups granulated sugar
* 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 cup water
* 2 eggs (just the whites)
* 3-4 tsp rose water or orange blossom water (to taste)
* 2 tsp spices (e.g., cardamom to taste)
* 1 cup toasted pistachios or almonds (whatever you favor)

Beat the Egg Whites
Crack two eggs over a bowl, and separate the whites from the yolks by pouring the contents of the egg from one shell into another.

Keep the egg whites. Place egg whites in a large bowl of a stand mixer, and whisk until they hold stiff peaks.

Make the Sugar Mixture
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, and continue to cook until mixture reaches hard-ball stage (250 degrees).

When sugar syrup has reached 250 degrees, remove it from heat and slowly pour approximately one quarter of the mixture into the stiff egg whites, with the mixer running constantly.

Continue to beat the egg whites until the mixture holds its shape.

Return the saucepan with the remaining sugar syrup to the stove, and continue to cook over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches 300 degrees (hard-crack stage).

With the mixer running, pour the remaining sugar syrup slowly into the egg mixture and continue beating until mixture is thick and stiff.

Add the rose water, orange blossom water, and/or spices and mix it together. Then fold in the nuts and stir until they’re combined.

Set the Pistachio Nougat
Oil the bottom and sides of a baking pan. Spoon the nougat into the prepared pan, and press it smoothly and evenly.

Keep it in refrigerator until the nougat is set. Take it out of the mold and cut it into squares.

29 responses to “Persian Nougat at last!

  1. If the weather stays dry next week I’m considering making some nougat. This sounds like a great recipe.

    I’m actually trying to find some sort of “light corn syrup” that doesn’t have HFCS, I’m thinking that Whole Foods might have something.

  2. Christine, your posts are encouraging. You almost made me to try this myself. :-)

  3. Okay, you know I’m gonna have to spend some of my holiday time making this next week! Love the sound of it – and I love nougat nearly as much as I love halva!! :-)

  4. If it weren’t for the basquillion percent humidity here in Melbourne, Australia, I’d give this a go for Xmas.

  5. I tried middle eastern nougat for the first time about six months ago and absolutely loved it. Thanks for the recipe – this one will definitely go in my recipe file! :)

  6. Hhere is the thing: the whole point of the corn syrup is that it is an “invert” sugar, incapable of crystalization.
    There are products available, but I think you could get away with 3 1/2 cups sugar and a dash of glucose or a tablespoon of lemon juice.

    Both of these will retard crytalization.

    I think if you are really careful and use a super-clean pan and your sugar is free of impurities, you should be okay. Also save the salt to the end.

    I have never seen the two-stage temperature method, I would tend to just go straight to hard crack and pour the sugar down the side of the bowl. The less handled and shocked the sugar is, the better it will behave.

    Good Luck, if I have time tomorrow, I will try a batch and let you know how it turns out.

  7. thank you everyone–i hope you enjoy the nougat. :)

    will: thank you very much for the substitute recommendation! (and for the sugar advice).

  8. Oooh…I might have to try this recipe! ;-) I made some bbokey this wknd, but nougat sounds too good! My friend used to make this in college and I never paid attention…i just gobbled it up!

  9. Finally I found this great recipe! Thank you so much! I really adore gaz and as you wrote, I too looked for a recipe all over the world (well in Iran I haven’t been^^)
    So thank you again, I’ll try this one this weekend, I think.
    But there’s a question left:
    250 degrees celsius or fahrenheit? I have to know cause I need to buy a thermometer for cooking, too. I didn’t even know that something like this existed!!
    Lots of greetings from Germany!

  10. 250 degrees fahrenheit (ohdear is that even possible in celsius via a stove top?)

    Yes–get a candy thermometer–it’s crucial to doing a first run of candy! Good luck. :)

  11. Pingback: nougat montelimar « Muffin Top

  12. FardCompany has been making Persian Nougat (Gaz) for over 25 years. Our focus has been on quality Middle Easter sweets and great care is taken to ensure our products are the finest in their class. If you dont have the time to make Persian Nougat but want to taste it, we might be able to help. Good Luck!

  13. Dear C(h)ristine,

    thank you for the recipe. I tried this today and had the same result… It was dense not fluffy and more like some kind of chewing bonbon…

    Did you find out to make a fluffy nougat? maybe by changing the temperature?

    PS: how many gramms of sugar do you use for 1 cup… since I’m from germany so I’m not too familiar with that… i used about 230ml fpr 1cup

    best regards
    stefan

  14. Stefan: I looked it up–they say an 8 ounce cup = 196 grams = 236mL.

    I haven’t figured out how to make it fluffier just yet! But the chewing bonbon style makes my father in law (who grew up with this stuff) very happy, because it’s how he remembers it.

  15. hey :) thank you for the Cup info…

    maybe the chewing bonbon style is the original way then.. and the fluffyness of the bought nougat is maybe only possible by cooking it in an industrial way.

    I might try it with 4egg whites later.. maybe that does the trick..

    best regards

  16. OK I finally made it… I got the nougat the fluffy way I love it. The only bad thing… I didn’t add almonds since i thought i would fail again… anyway I’m really happy now :)

    well here’s the way I did it. The recipe is for the basic nougat mass…

    —————————-

    Ingredients:

    *2 egg whites
    *250 ml sugar (would be round about one of your cups)
    *50 ml syrup (i think it’s a bit more dense than the light corn syrup)
    *100 ml water
    *1/4 tsp salt

    Equipment:

    *hand mixer
    *bowl for the nougat mass
    *one pot for the sugar cooking
    *one bigger pot filled with water (the bowl has to fit on it, since we will stir the nougat mass over hot water)

    Stir the eggs really stiff (add some sugar – maybe 3 to 4 teaspoons while stirring to make it extra stiff).

    Mix sugar, syrup, salt and water in the sugar pot.

    Start cooking the sugar and heat up the water in the big pot.

    When the sugar reached hard crack state (150°C or 300°F) take it off the fire. Start the hand mixer again and stir the stiff eggs while slowly pouring the sugar in.

    When the sugar is mixed in put the bowl onto the the big pot with the hot water. Stir the nougat mass quite a while. I used my arms additionally when stirring to make the nougat extra fluffy.
    Stirring might take well about 1o minutes, until the mass gets kinda hard (Adding extra ingredients like almonds must be somewhere in between here – which means some extra strength is needed, since we have to stir without the hand mixer after that)

    Now take the bowl from the hot water and spread the nougat on baking paper. I had to use my hands to flatten it the way I wanted it to be, since the mass wasn’t liquid at that state anymore

    —————————-

    I’m really excited to try this with extra ingredients later.

    best regards

  17. Stefan–thank you so much! You’ve saved me a TON of legwork. :) Yes, definitely try it with the rosewater, cardamom and pistachios.

  18. Sahar in the Morning

    FYI: In Iran… the city of Isfahan is famous for this candy which they call “gaz”.

    Once it is set and cooled off, it is cut into bite size pieces and rolled in white flour. They place the pieces in a box with more flour.

    It keeps the candy from drying out and smacking two pieces together to shake off the flour makes the candy all the more fun.

  19. hello, thank you for this recipe, I was looking for it for quite some time…I have few questions please:
    You wrote 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup, does this mean 5.5 cups of syrup?
    is there another substitute to the corn syrup…I asked around and no one have hear of it…. can you use lime or glucose instead?

  20. Dear boulbul:
    1 1/2 = 1.5 cups light corn syrup.

    as for corn syrup substitutes…you can use Lyle’s Golden Syrup (in same quantity as corn syrup)…or Honey (use in same quantity as corn syrup) — honey is quite a bit sweeter than corn syrup, but if the recipe doesn’t call for a lot of it, this may be an effective substitute…or Molasses (use in same quantity as corn syrup) — molasses is darker and stronger in flavor than sugar, and not as sweet, so this should be your last choice as a substitute.

  21. I hope this isn”t too many years toolate but I made this recently but I found it very hard to cut .Do you have any ideas ?

  22. I have finally tried it twice, but so far no luck…I don’t know what I am doing wrong? The nougat I got is not set at all, it is very liquid and does not contain itself. I even left it in the fridge for more than a day!

    I am not so sure what I am doing wrong. would it be less sugar, or the honey that I put …please help or advise, thanks.

    boulboul

  23. Hi Judi and boulbul: I am not a candy making expert–but I’ve found that making persian nougat centers around making sure the sugar reaches the right temperature. For the record, Judi, it is kind of hard to cut, but it shouldn’t be impossible.

    boulbul: it sounds like you didn’t bring it up to a high enough temperature?

  24. You are great…I will try it now and get back to you. thanks

  25. Thankyou I made it again last week & cut it with a hot knife ,it was relatively easy.

  26. I have slowly been refining a recipe for nougat that bears a remarkable similarity to Stefan’s except I use honey at only 10% of the sugar weight to provide the crystal-checking invert element. I tried earlier with a tiny amount of lemon juice so the acid would convert the sucrose to glucose and fructose, but it is unpredictable (you woukld need to be able to measure the acidity of the lemon juice and weight it to the nearest 1/10th of a gram and time the cooking to the second!). Anyway I suspect this thread is dead so nobody will benefit from these observations, but suffice it to say – invert syrup is the way to go for me, so I can control the tastes I want (honey is unpredictable).

  27. Thank You for the receipe, I will try to make nougat in the near future :-)

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