Even though I always believed that this well loved sweet was originally the brainchild of Apicius who lovingly described nucatum (also based on honey, walnuts and eggs) in his writings, it was probably the romantic in me and it does seem that nougat, in it’s current form was invented in Marseilles during the 16th century and was probably the result of a walnut glut. Once, exclusively made in Montélimar it is now available everywhere. Nowadays there are many kinds of nougat made and the modern approach to sweet making is refreshing and delicious.
In France there are many kinds – the white nougat (15% nuts); the Montélimar (30% nuts); pate de nougat (less than 15% nuts); nougat au miel (20% honey); nougat de Provence (23% heavily caramalized sugar and honey, hazelnuts, coriander, aniseed and flavoured with orange-flower water) is my absolute favourite; noir (black) and rouge (red) and Parisienne nougats (15% nuts & not aerated) and then vietnamese nougat made from sesame seeds, peanuts and sugar and then the Italians make some and the Arabs and so we can carry on ad infinitum. I listed the French out of respect because it is thanks to them that we have it today. However, we can do as we please as there are no regulations and our thoughts and dreams our only limits. Easier than this, it doesn’t get.
Other Christmas treats: