I've always wanted to try this traditional spanish recipe at home but somehow I always ended up cooking more 'international' desserts for Christmas. Last week, the wonderful team at El Granero Integral asked me to do a vegan, healthier yet delicious version of the typical nougat bars and candies that are so popular here in Spain. No holiday table is complete without these melt-in-your-mouth sweet treats!
There are so many different flavors and styles, from the old school soft almond nougat (one of my faves!)or the hard nougat with cruncy almonds to the most innovative and modern flavor combinations: raspberry with marzipan, piña colada, cheesecake brownie...and I'm gonna stop naming them cause there's a big box of these nougats upstairs at my home that I promised not to open until the 24th.
So back to my recipe, I went a tad bit crazy and made several different flavors; that's why I decided to write the recipes in separate blog posts in order to keep it as short and easy as possible...I can't deal with long ass blog posts or endless recipes, they can bore readers like "okay, I'm tired of reading, gonna check the pictures out and off I go!".
The one I'm sharing with you today is a soft almond nougat, one of my family's favorite and one that surely will be gone in the blink of an eye if you serve it to your guests. It's deliciously tender, soft and with a marvelous taste of homemade roasted almonds. I warn you, one bite and you'll be hooked for life!
I hope you like it, guys! Tell me, what is your favorite traditional christmas dessert from your country?
Soft Almond Nougat
(yield: one large bar, using this mould)
350 g whole raw almonds (2 1/2 cups approximately).
130 g whole cane sugar (2/3 cups).
30g organic molasses (3 tablespoons).
30 g organic light agave syrup (3 tablespoons).
Preheat oven to 200 ºC (392 ºF) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread the almonds evenly on the baking sheet so they are not overlapping and roast them for 5 minutes approximately, always keeping an eye on them since not all the ovens work the same and we all know how quickly nuts can come from golden to dark-brown-aka-burnt.
If you feel lazy you can buy roasted almonds but make sure they are unsalted. I prefer to roast them at home so I know that I'm really eating roasted almonds and nothing else (like refined oils, etc).
Let the almonds cool for a couple minutes and, if you bought skin-on almonds, peel them. It's okay if you leave some of them unpeeled. I also found a great and quick tutorial here to blanch almonds in a few minutes.
Weigh 300 grams of the skinned almonds (around 2 cups), this is the final weight we need to make the nougat. I added a few more because mine were organic unpeeled almonds and as you all know, after roasting and skinning them the total weight is considerably reduced.
Important: if your almonds are already blanched/skinned you will need 300g/2 cups for this recipe. So skip the peeling process.
Add the roasted almonds and the rest of the ingredients (sugar, molasses and agave) to the bowl of your food processor and get the food processor running until a crumbly paste forms. It should start to form a ball that easily crumbles when touched and looks like wet sand.
Lightly grease the mould with sunflower oil or other neutral-flavored oil and using your fingers firmly press down the dough into the pan so that the crumbles smoosh together. Make sure the edges are well compacted and smooth out the surface with the back of a large wooden spoon or by tapping the top with your palms.
Transfer to the refrigerator and let the nougat set and (slightly) harden for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.
Let the nougat soften at room temperature around 5 minutes before slicing into squares.
Store covered in plastic wrap in the fridge. If you let it sit at room temperature for too long it will realease too much of the almonds natural oils.