I just love Halloween; and why not? What other time can you knock on a door and be treated with a sweet goody? Of course it really is not as safe as it was when I was little, in fact Sydney only ever “trick or treated” with friends in our neighborhood or at school parties, which is why every year I go NUTS baking homemade candy, cookies, cupcakes and cakes, you get the idea. This year I thought it would be different, Sydney being away at school in Illinois, but she transferred back, so the baking began a while ago. She actually helped me with Pinktober and walked “The Race for The Cure,” with me.
By adding the dried cherries, which look black and the apricots (dried peaches work too) which look orange, the nougat has a Halloween glow.
400 grams/ 2 cups sugar, plus 15 grams for egg whites
60 grams/ ¼ cup water
160 grams/ ½ cup light corn syrup or agave nectar
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon rose syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup dried apricots, quartered
½ cup dried cherries, cut bite size
1 ½ cups bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine and melted
Spray an 8 by 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom and sides of the pan with waxed or parchment paper, to make it easier to lift, let the wax paper hang over the sides giving yourself a lip of few inches. Lightly spray the waxed paper inside the pan.
In a heavy bottom saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup, over low heat. Do not stir, swirl the syrup and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer, and cook until the syrup turns a nice amber color and the candy thermometer reaches 150º to 155ºC or 300º to 310ºF about 18 to 20 minutes. This when your syrup is at the hard crack stage.
When the syrup registers about 116ºC or 240ºF. Start in a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisking on medium speed the egg whites and a pinch of salt until a soft peak develops. Slowly add 7 grams of sugar, the vanilla extract, and rose syrup. Continue to whisk the egg whites, on medium speed adding the remaining 8 grams of sugar until they are hard peaks and shiny, be careful not to over mix otherwise the meringue becomes dried and breaks.
With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour in a steady stream of the syrup into the egg whites. Be careful not to let the syrup touch the whisk, pouring down the side of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium- high and continue mixing for 8 minutes until the mixture holds it’s shape and is thick. Using a spatula, sprayed with cooking spray, fold the dried fruit. It will be sticky. Pour the nougat onto the parchment paper, spray your hands with cooking spray and flatten with sprayed hands. Leave to rest overnight at room temperature.
In a Bain Marie, or a double boiler melt the bittersweet chocolate over a little simmering water. Temper the chocolate, so it stays shiny and beautiful.
Invert the baking pan, peel off the waxed paper, and discard. Cut to desired size pieces, with a pizza cutter (spray the pizza cutter with cooking spray), and dip half in chocolate or drizzle chocolate over the top and add sprinkles (optional).
Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
**Try ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract; or 1 vanilla bean scraped for seeds only
** Be sure to temper the chocolate
While the nougat was napping overnight Sydney and I began designing the Caramel Chocolate Cups.We used to make turtles, but the are so many allergies to nuts we changed the candy to caramel cups to look like peanut butter cups.