Though a mainstay in the gift shops of Provence, nougat was a Middle Eastern invention. When it was imported to the port of Marseille in the seventeenth century, it quickly gained favor and Gallic production began. Olivier de Serres planted almond trees in nearby Montélimar, and soon the town became synonymous with the snow-white confection.
The key to good nougat is choosing your honey well. Provence is known for its lavender honey, which has a subtle flavor well suited to nougat. If you can’t find lavender honey, another mild honey will work. I love the taste of nougat, but making it into a mousse is even easier than making the nougat itself, as no sugar thermometer is needed. In its mousse guise, you’ll discover a light and airy alternative to its chewy cousin, but with all those nougaty flavors.
- Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
- Preparation Time: 15 Minutes
- Cooking Time: 5 Minutes
- 2 tbsp (25 g) shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup (50 g) blanched almonds, roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup (100 g) lavender honey or other mild honey
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 egg whites
- ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp whipping cream
- ¼ cup (50 g) candied orange peel, finely chopped
- In a small sauté pan over medium heat, toast the pistachios and almonds until golden. Place the honey and water in a saucepan over high heat and cook for about 5 minutes; the mixture will foam like crazy then calm down.
- In the meantime, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Once the honey is bubbling gently, slowly pour it over the egg whites while whisking. Continue to whisk for about 5 minutes, until the egg whites form soft peaks. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
- Whip the cream to soft peaks. Set aside 2 to 3 tbsp of the pistachios, almonds, and candied orange peel to sprinkle on top of the finished mousse, then fold the rest into the egg whites, along with the whipped cream.
- Divide the mixture between glasses or bowls and refrigerate for at least an hour, until well-chilled. Sprinkle the reserved pistachios, almonds, and candied orange peel on top before serving.