You've scarfed down the stretchy, sugary center in candy bars from Snickers to 3 Musketeers to Charleston Chews countless times, but the sticky substance that makes these delicacies so delicious still seems like a major sweet tooth mystery.
Nougat, at the center of every gooey candy bar's anatomy, is responsible for the elastic-like stretchable insides of your candy bar. But what is nougat, exactly?
According to the Food History Almanac by Janet Clarkson, nougat and candy (derived from the Persian word quand) were created in the Middle East back in the 8th Century. Europeans also believe that nougat was created in the 15th century, when Italian confectioners whipped up the sticky creation as part of an indulgent wedding feast. Though saccharine legends and history may be inconclusive, one thing is for sure: Nougat has stuck around.
Nougat is not some magical substance, but rather an ancient (or close to ancient) candy creation that is made with basic kitchen ingredients.
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"The base is egg whites and some type of sugar or corn syrup that is whisked together whilst adding air (aerating) to it," Chris Lindstedt, senior buyer at IT'SUGAR explained in an email. "Typically, nuts and/or fruit are added at the end of the process; most commonly, almonds are used."
The taste and texture of nougat can vary widely —just think of the difference between 3 Musketeers and Snickers.
Nougat can also be made at home, by whisking egg white, powdered sugar, warm water and honey together. In terms of candy-making, it's pretty easy, and you can customize your homemade nougat by tossing in nuts before it cools or dipping the cooled nougat in chocolate.
Nutritionally, nougat, like many candies, is all sugar, carbohydrates and empty calories. Low in saturated fat and sodium, it's not the absolute worst thing for you, but it also isn't great. Around the world, sweet tooths can find variations of nougat ranging from turrón in Spain, which is more than half almonds, torrone in Italy, which is often flavored with vanilla as well as more variations on the sticky treat across the globe. Start an international nougat collection and report back.
Next time you bite into a nougat, at least you'll know what it is!