Who doesn’t like vanilla? It’s a flavor that somehow takes a backseat to chocolate, but can be just as good, especially when you have a great recipe that can utilize the vanilla essence. I received this amazing recipe and I thought I would share it with you, especially since Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. This could be a perfect recipe for the cupid in your life!
According to author Shauna Sever, who wrote the book Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques, ” Vanilla is often the overlooked and underestimated ingredient in recipes, yet it has a rich history and hundreds of complex flavors. I recommend using high-quality pure vanilla, such as Nielsen-Massey, for the best results.”
From Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever
Makes about 2 dozen 1 inch bites
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
½ teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla extract
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60 to 70 percent cacao), melted
¼ cup finely chopped salted nuts*
* Use whatever kind of nuts you like. Salted peanuts and almonds are especially good for a candy bar effect.
- Lightly coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Line it with parchment paper and lightly spray the parchment, too.
- In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium high heat, stir together sugar, 1/2 cup water, corn syrup, and salt. Boil until the temperature reaches 238°F.
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites on medium speed until they hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly pour half of the hot syrup into egg whites, beginning with just 1 to 2 tablespoons and then gradually pouring in the rest (adding just a little syrup at first warms up the egg whites and prevents them from scrambling). Immediately return saucepan with the remaining hot syrup to medium-high heat and bring to a boil; continue beating egg-white mixture until thick, with the consistency of marshmallow crème, then turn off mixer.
- When the syrup temperature reaches 275°F, turn mixer on at medium speed and slowly pour in syrup. Increase mixer speed to high and beat for 10 to 12 minutes, until mixture is very thick, heavy, and beginning to lose its gloss; the bowl should be cool except for the very bottom. Scrape mixture into prepared pan and spread it into the corners with lightly oiled hands or an offset spatula. Let set at room temperature until completely cool and firm, about 2 hours.
- Invert nougat onto a cutting surface and remove the parchment. The slab should be sticky side up (the side that was exposed to the air while setting should be dry and not sticky when touched). Cut into 1-inch squares and place squares sticky side up on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Pour melted chocolate into a small zip-top bag. Use scissors to snip off the corner of the bag. Drizzle a bit of chocolate over each nougat square and sprinkle chopped nuts on top. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 5 minutes, before serving.
If the egg whites hold soft peaks before the syrup temperature reaches 238°F, stop the mixer—you want the whipped whites to be ready and waiting for the syrup, not the other way around.
This soft nougat is the perfect base for all kinds of creative confectioneries. Flavor it as you like (peppermint holiday nougat, anyone?), fold in dried fruits and nuts for a riff on Italian torrone, or use it as inspiration for your own homemade candy bars.
About Shauna Sever
Shauna Sever is The Next Door Baker. With her easy, fun and accessible approach to baking and entertaining, she inspires both the pastry proficient and baking-phobic alike to tie their apron strings and head into the kitchen. With her first cookbook, Marshmallow Madness! from Quirk Books published in February 2012; Her second cookbook; Pure Vanilla, a popular food blog named one of the top 50 food blogs by Babble.com; and the launch of Bake Sale Bakery, a small batch baking and dessert catering business, Shauna is matching her skills and her passion to make baking accessible to everyone.
Before pursuing a career in the food biz, Shauna graduated with a degree in Journalism from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. After working as an investigative reporter, a television host and correspondent for the likes of Extra and TV Guide Network, Shauna decided to follow her sweet tooth into the world of baking and desserts. Soon after, she launched her blog and became a recipe writer for a Michelin-starred chef, and continued on as a TV host for food-related segments.