Friday, December 13, 2013

Stresa Travel Recipes: Sweet Treats for Christmas!

This year for Christmas I decided to make some homemade gifts for friends and settled on mini cestini of sweet treats: soft almond and hazelnut nougat (torrone morbido alle mandorle e noci), rum and raisin fudge and cantucci (biscotti).

The finished product
I searched through a lot of recipes online and settled on the collection that follows. For the nougat and fudge you will need a food thermometer. After reading around a bit I settled on the Silikomart Thermo Choc which I ordered direct from their website. It is the first time I've done any cooking that required such precise temperatures and, being built into a spatula, I found it very easy to use (and being silicon, very easy to clean too!).

Soft Almond and Hazelnut Nougat (Torrone Morbido alle Mandorle e Noci) 

My nougat slab
The original recipe is here (with much better photos than mine!) and as it is in Italian, here is the translation:

I read plenty online about making nougat and the best tip I found was to have all the ingredients weighed out before you start, because once you get going you need them quickly.

250g orange blossom honey
100ml water and 410g sugar
40g egg white (here that worked out at 1.5 medium egg's worth)
600g nuts (I used about 500g almonds and 100g hazelnuts)
Grated zest of one orange
Rice paper

Hand whisk
Wooden spoon at the ready!
Food thermometer

1. Preparation is key! Weigh everything out. Lay out some grease proof paper on your worktop and then put your rice paper on top. To give you an idea of the size you need I spread my nougat over rice paper measuring 28x36cm. Heat the oven to 180°C and put the nuts on a baking tray and toast until just going gold.

2. Whilst the nuts are toasting whip the egg white in a large bowl. I did it to medium peaks.

3. Put the honey in a pan and heat it to exactly 120°C. Take it off the heat and stir it to cool down a couple of degrees. With your hand whisk going drizzle the honey into the egg whites and beat for a further 5 minutes. At this point I got the nuts out the oven and put them in a separate bowl.

4. Heat the sugar and water to a syrup and continue heating until 147°C. Then with your hand whisk going drizzle the syrup into the egg white and honey mix and add the orange zest. Keep whisking and it will start to stiffen. At a certain point you will need to swap to the wooden spoon or your whisk motor will burn out!! At this point add the nuts. Keep beating (great biceps exercise!!).

5. When it is stiff and gluey spoon it onto the rice paper. Wet your hands and with your hands still wet press the nougat to spread it out over the rice paper (if you don't wet your hands you will stick to the nougat). Cover with rice paper and use a rolling pin to get an even thickness of about 1.5cm.

6. Leave to cool completely before cutting. The original recipe said 1 hour but I left mine overnight as it was still a bit soft after an hour. My tip for cutting it - have a glass of water handy and dip your knife in every now and then. I used a non serrated knife to cut it. Also be decisive when cutting! Otherwise it squashes!! NB it does not need to be refrigerated to set.

Enough nougat to feed an army!
Rum and Raisin Fudge

The basic fudge recipe is here in English. I added a good handful of raisins soaked in rum :) My tip here really is to do exactly as the recipe says. After beating it your arm will be ready to drop off so you might want to call in some extra muscle to help at that stage. Heating it to the exact temperature in the recipe and beating it exactly like it said, I had no problem setting the fudge at room temperature.

Cantucci (Biscotti)

The original recipe is here and this time I followed with no additions of my own. My tip for making these biscotti is to cut decisively and with a non-serrated knife as the dough is very delicate at the cutting stage. When I put the biscotti back in for the second bake, I found I needed a tad longer than 15 minutes to get them to harden but I guess that will all depend on your oven.

Have you made any homemade gifts for Christmas? We'd love to hear your recipes!

No comments:

Post a Comment