French Almond Nougat
The basis of this candy is a mixture of simple syrup and egg whites known as mazetta.
For the mazetta
- 2 large egg whites, room temperature
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup sugar
For the nougat
- 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2 cups whole raw almonds, skin on
Begin by making the mazetta: Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until stiff; set aside. In a 1-quart saucepan, combine corn syrup, 1/4 cup water, and sugar. Clip on a candy thermometer. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Wash down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals.
Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until temperature reaches 242 degrees (soft-ball stage), 15 to 20 minutes. Remove sugar syrup from heat. Beating constantly on medium speed, slowly pour hot syrup into egg whites. Continue beating for 3 to 4 minutes until syrup is incorporated. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to make the nougat.
Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with vegetable-oil spray; set aside. Place mazetta in a large bowl; set aside. In a 2-quart saucepan, combine corn syrup and sugar. Clip on candy thermometer. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, 5 to 10 minutes. Wash down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals.
Over medium-high heat, cook to 280 degrees (soft-crack stage), 12 to 15 minutes, without stirring. If heat is too high it can boil over, so watch carefully. Remove from heat; let stand for 2 minutes. Without scraping pan, pour syrup over mazetta. Working quickly, stir with a wooden spoon until almost smooth. Stir in butter, vanilla, and salt. Mix until butter is incorporated. Stir in nuts. Scrape into prepared pan, and smooth the top; you may spray your hand with vegetable-oil spray and run it over the warm candy to smooth it. Let stand at room temperature, uncovered, until firm, 4 to 6 hours.
Spray a large cutting board generously with vegetable-oil spray. Unmold nougat from pan onto sprayed surface. Cut nougat into 3-by-1-by-3/4-inch pieces or other desired shapes. Wrap each piece in cellophane or waxed paper.