Friday, January 12, 2024

HOMEMADE SOFT VEGAN CHOCOLATE NOUGAT

Nougat is a glorious, wonderful confection made of various toasted nuts, honey, and often egg whites. However, there is a variation of nougat that is my favourite and most used in my recipes - Viennese nougat. With no egg whites and no honey, it is essentially a type of candy, or a candy bar filling, made with finely ground hazelnuts and chocolate.
If you have never made homemade nougat before, the one thing I want to emphasise is that the texture will be different from the ones available in the shops; however, that is not an altogether bad thing. While I like my nougat smooth, it can be left with slightly larger pieces of hazelnuts throughout, for a wonderful crunch.
Another important thing is the choice of chocolate. I always recommend using good, high-quality chocolate bars in recipes like this one, as it has very few ingredients and heavily depends on their properties and flavour. For this one, my choice was a blend of dark chocolate with 75% cocoa solids and extra dark bitter chocolate with 80% cocoa solids and no added sugar. Do adjust the chocolate to your preferences, but keep in mind that many recipes that will call for nougat will also contain sugar, so it is best to keep the chocolate dark.
On a final note, if you like, you can glaze individual pieces of homemade nougat in chocolate or roll them in some additional hazelnuts, to make lovely little homemade gifts. And if you want to enjoy it as a sweet snack, I am very happy to say that it pairs absolutely perfectly with strong coffee.


Ingredients
150 grams whole hazelnuts, toasted
100 grams icing sugar, sifted
120 grams dark chocolate (at least 75% cocoa solids)
50 grams vegan block butter
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
small pinch of salt, optional

Preparation
Melt together the chocolate, vegan block butter, and the vanilla, and let it cool down slightly. Place the toasted hazelnuts into a blender and pulse them a few times. Add in the icing sugar and let the blender run until completely smooth batter forms. Scrape down the sides, add in the melted chocolate, and let the blender run until a thick batter forms. If using, add the salt, and blend once more.
Line a small baking pan (18x18 cm) with baking parchment, pour in the soft nougat, level it nicely, and cover it with another piece of parchment. Place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or until completely firm. If using immediately, proceed to use it as per the recipe, and if not, portion it up and place it in the freezer. Yields 400 grams of soft chocolate nougat.

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