I used to be excited by the snap and sweetness of a Nestle Crunch bar until I started sneaking some of my mom and dad’s sweet tooth fixes. My mom would take out her black 70+ percent Valrhona chocolate bar
from the cupboard at the end of dinner and measure off one square, and slowly savor it with her last sip of wine. Having eaten the perfect amount, the chocolate bar would be rewrapped and slipped back into the top of my cupboard. My dad, considering chocolate abhorrent — according to him, genetics allows him to taste something awful that the rest of us can’t — would finish his meal with cheese, nougat montelimar or loukoumi. The nougat montelimar was so unusual to me (chewy, white, nut and orange peel laden, with a slight honey flavor) and a mystery how to make. As I got older, and acquired a taste for all those treats my parents loved, I learned how to make quite a few of them in culinary school. As follows is my recipe for nougat montelimar developed over the years and started in culinary school.
200 g water
600 g sugar
250 g heavy glucose (can be bought a candy supply store, e.g. Sugar n Spice in Daly City or Spun Sugar in Berkeley)
8 pieces of wafer paper (also available at candy store, edible)
350 g honey
120 g egg whites
100 g sugar
300 g pistachios
300 g slivered almonds
200 g chopped candied orange peel
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread pistachios, almonds and orange peel on a sheet pan. Reserve largest metal bowl you own. Combine water, 600 g sugar and heavy glucose in a medium pan and heat on high, not stirring. When the sugar syrup reaches 240°F (don’t stop heating!), whip egg whites and 100 g sugar until it forms soft peaks. Meanwhile, heat honey on high until it reaches 248°F. Place nuts and orange peel as well as large metal bowl in the oven to heat for about 5 minutes. Continue heating the sugar syrup until it reaches 310°F. Whip egg whites while adding 248°F honey by pouring it against the side of the bowl. Continue whipping and add 310°F sugar syrup. Whip for 3 more minutes. Remove nuts and orange peel from oven and pour into the heated large bowl. Pour nougat into nuts and orange peel and mix with wooden spoon. Lay out two pieces of wafer paper next to each other on half sheet pan using tiny bits of nougat to stick the wafer paper to the pan. Spread 1/4 of nougat on each piece of paper and top with another piece of wafer paper and slowly press down working from the inside out until 1/2 an inch thick. Repeat with second sheet pan. Let cool one hour and then cut into squares with long serrated knife. I recommend frequently washing off the knife with hot water to make cutting easier.