For a hard-boiled candy to be biteable, it needs to either be leavened or spread out very thinly. I have already discussed the topic of aerating candy in detail. Today, I want to focus on the practical part of candy-making: the recipes.
There are four candy recipes that I am going to cover today:
- Honeycomb toffee
- Nougat Montélimar
- German nut brittle
- American nut brittle
The flavors are intentionally very basic. The recipes are simple and a great starting point for people new to making candy. Learning to make candy is like learning how to cook sauces. Once you’ve understood and mastered the base recipes, you can start to experiment and come up with your own recipe variations that suit your taste.
I ain’t gonna stop you if you replace the almonds for Nougat Montélimar with peanuts and a few gratings of orange or lemon zest. Honeycomb toffee tastes wonderful with a few dashes of vanilla or bitter almond extract. Add whatever flavorings you like to these base recipes. Or leave them as is. Oftentimes the simple version tastes the best.
Honeycomb toffee is leavened with baking soda. Once the syrup has reached 149 °C (300 ºF), you need to immediately take it off the heat and stir in the soda. Once the candy mass has puffed up, be gentle when spreading out the honeycomb toffee on a piece of parchment paper. You don’t want to deflate the airy candy mass.
In this recipe, you can replace half the glucose powder with honey if you like. However, please make sure to use refined liquid honey. Don’t use a fancy honey brand that contains a lot of impurities. These impurities will burn before the syrup is up to temperature.
White nougat is popular around the Mediterranean area and is also known under names such as Torrone or Turkish honey. It has a long tradition in France. The traditional recipe for Nougat Montélimar dates back more than 500 years.
In Germany, people prefer dark nougat over the white variety. Dark nougat is a mixture of chocolate and hazelnuts. It has nothing in common with white nougat. Dark nougat was invented as a method to stretch chocolate with hazelnut paste. It is no aerated sugar syrup.
German Nut Brittle
German nut brittle is not leavened. It is one of the simplest things to make: Prepare a caramel and mix it with nuts. That’s it.
In Germany, we are big fans of hazelnuts and almonds. But you can use whatever nut variety you like. Oftentimes, the nut brittle is broken up into small crumbles and used as a cake topping or filling.
American-style Peanut Brittle
American brittle recipes often call for baking soda. This lightens up the texture of the brittle. In Germany, nut brittle is only seldomly eaten by itself. It is used as a crunch element in cakes. However, in the US, it’s common to eat peanut brittle as a snack.
And I think that shows in the recipe. It uses glucose syrup to keep crystallization under control and the candy mass is leavened. Also, the peanuts are salted. Delicious in my opinion but in Germany very uncommon. If there is any salt in German desserts, it’s usually just so little that you can’t notice the salt. All this salted caramel or salted chocolate stuff that British and American people love is not very popular in Germany. Most Germans prefer sweet and sour things over sweet and salty.