Alert for all salted caramel fans! You need to make this easiest nougatine recipe. Made simply with salted butter, sugar and toasted nuts, it makes the perfect topping on French chocolate desserts and patisserie.
Not too Brittle, Not too Soft
I love making batches of my warmed salted caramel sauce to pour on crêpes, cakes, ice creams, meringues and all sorts of creamy and apple desserts. There comes a time, however, when we need a touch of caramel texture to add to desserts. Not too brittle and not too soft, either.
Le Crunch from this nougatine recipe takes desserts to another level. Add it to chocolate tartlets and rice pudding for that extra special texture. Moreover, it takes little time to prepare.
Inspiration from L’Ami Jean in Paris
I say rice pudding, as a respectful nod goes to Stéphane Jégo, chef at the popular Parisian restaurant, l’Ami Jean in the 7th (rue Malar). While his dishes are all fabulous, he’s particularly renowned for his addictively creamy rice pudding. It’s the kind of dessert many people shy away from after a big meal. “I can’t go for rice pudding – that will be far too much after all I’ve eaten.”
Think again. It comes in a sharing bowl with a separate pot of salted caramel cream and a salted nougatine like this one with added peanuts. Last time we couldn’t finish it, Antoine asked for a doggy bag and we were still enjoying it the next day!
Easy Method to Make Caramel
What I love about this nougatine recipe is how easy and quick it is: the caramel is made by heating the BUTTER FIRST WITH THE SUGAR directly and stirring. For more on this, see my salted caramel sauce recipe, inspired by French food scientist, Raphaël Haumont.
I’ve also adapted the recipe slightly and also toast the nuts lightly beforehand to bring out the flavours.
Caramel Decoration for French Pastries
The crunch came when I made some double chocolate tarts from my book, Teatime in Paris. If you don’t have the book, then try my sample recipe of these tartlets (along with a review of the book) chez Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen.
Et voilà! Plonk a bit of this French nougatine on top of chocolate or pistachio tartlets and you’ll find good reason to use it on many other desserts. Except if you have daughters like mine, who help themselves to the addictive nougatine from its jar and just nibble on it on its own. You may just find one batch isn’t quite enough …
How Long Does Nougatine Keep?
The good news is that this nougatine can keep in a sealed jar in a cool, dry place for at least a month.
It’s like money in the bank when friends come around unexpectedly and you need to decorate a simple dessert at the last minute and take it to the new heights!
- 100 g (4oz) slivered almonds
- 50 g (2oz) pistachios (unsalted)
- 50 g (2oz) hazelnuts
- 100 g (4oz) walnuts
- 50 g (2oz) butter salted (if not add 1/2 tsp fleur de sel)
- 175 g (6oz) sugar
- Place all nuts in a single layer on top of a non-stick baking sheet and lightly toast them under a hot grill for a couple of minutes. Keep your eye on them and don't move away from the grill, as this happens quickly and you do NOT want them to burn (any burning will make the nuts bitter). Toasting them lightly brings out their wonderful flavour. When toasted, set them aside to cool.
- In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter on a medium heat. As soon as it's melted, add the sugar.Using a wooden spoon, stir around the sugar and butter, continuing to stir until the mixture starts to form a liquid and a caramel forms. As soon as this happens and it's golden (not brown), add all the nuts.
- Stir around the nuts until they're all well covered and sticky in the caramel.
- Turn out immediately on to patisserie mat (Silpat) or directly on to a clean, marble surface.
- Spread it out quickly and as evenly as you can in a layer (this will make it easier to break with your fingers later).
- Leave to cool on the counter for about 15 minutes or until the caramel hardens.When cool, break into pieces and get deliciously decorating!