Let's Talk Nougat!

Jackie Cameron
I’m always fascinated when one occasion leads to another and something special evolves. Let’s talk nougat.
— Jackie Cameron

A few weeks back my students entered the annual ClemenGold Patisserie Challenge which was open to every culinary school in the country. My students’ combinations focussed on showcasing their personalities with the result that each was relative and unique to the individual. The students’ enthusiasm and determination was inspirational as they dedicated time - after hours included - perfecting their respective entries. Carla Schulze created her interpretation of a ClemenGold – a soft, sweet citrus fruit – that had fallen off a tree. Cara Conway’s cheesecake was made within the ClemenGold skin and resulted in an infusion of note.

Catherine Cousins made her ClemenGold Kiss - not a small peck but more of a smooch; a large-sized Italian kiss. This kiss was clearly filled with love because Catherine was voted a Top 6 finalist in this competition. You can show your support by voting for her on Facebook. May I ask you to ‘Like’ ClemenGold’s page, then ‘Like’ and comment on her appealing photograph? Catherine’s hand-pulled, white-chocolate-lined nougat took my fancy. She doesn’t enjoy making the traditional rice-paper-wrapped nougat so she gave this her own interpretation. Very cool.

I have my own nougat recipe in Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home. I, however, suggest you find a recipe that suits you (this goes for most things) and practise it until it’s perfect. There is no one more understanding of the phrase ‘practise makes perfect’ than Gilly Walters of Wedgewood Nougat. I remember an interesting conversation with Gilly many years ago. Since then her family-run business, which is fanatical about its nougat, the environment and the community, has grown to a level that could never have been imagined back in those days. But some things will never change… Gilly’s tried-and-tested recipe, for instance. Hand making their nougat in small batches and never taking short cuts with ingredients is the recipe for success. This philosophy is to be admired and respected.

The production line has moved to state-of-the-art facilities on the Walters’ small farm in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, and now employs the entire family and about 60 production and administrative staff. Commitment to quality and their passion for good food and simple living is evidence in everything they do. The students at my school are privileged to have visited the ‘factory’.

At a recent function I met up with Fran and Jon Walters and they invited me to drop in on their operation. For me invitations are irresistible. I normally take them up no matter where in the country I have to travel. And this was an ideal opportunity for my students to get their minds around making more than a 5L mix of nougat at a time. We noted that Wedgewood nougat was made slowly, using the finest ingredients. There were no fancy, big nougat-making machines; no preservatives; no artificial colours; no short cuts. One has to admire a company that prioritises quality over quantity, and – for that reason - handmade nougat just tastes better.

The students had some interesting observations. Catherine said she was amazed by the amount of love and time that was poured into the product - a reflection of this was in the flavour. The proof of the pudding is in the eating…. I believe Carla will enjoy happy memories with every square of nougat that she nibbles at in future. She was captivated by the tantalising aromas that accompany nougat making and I know how difficult it was for her to resist sticking her fingers into the mixture. Cara appreciated the ‘familyness' of the business. Seeing the process behind the scenes made her look at nougat in a new light - a process that was new to her. She was fascinated by the “work of art” that Wedgewood has mastered. Elaine Boshoff, my sous chef, said she could clearly taste homemade “in every bite”. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried the angel nougat biscuits! And, as the team at Wedgewood says, “life is too short to eat ordinary biscuits”.

Our Wedgewood visit and Catherine’s exciting news inspired the following six recipes:

Wonderbag-steamed Chocolate Pudding with Nougat

A Wonderbag-steamed chocolate pudding with nougat is worth a try just before winter comes to the end.  I’ve made it – and it works.

Homemade Nougat Ice Cream

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy homemade ice cream and the addition of nougat creates an enticing texture combination of gooey-and-crisp almond nut.

Hot Cocoa Drink with Nougat

If you have a seriously-sweet tooth try this hot cocoa drink with nougat. Who needs chocolate sauce when there is nougat sauce? Try this for an unusual alternative

Baked Nougat Cheesecake

Finding an exceptional baked-cheesecake recipe has taken me a number of years. Made with Wedgewood’s biscuits as a base, and incorporating nougat, makes a delicious tea option.

Nougat Chocolate Brownies

Nougat chocolate brownies - give me moist brownies any day of the year!

Nougat Sauce

Who needs chocolate sauce when there is nougat sauce? Try this for an unusual alternative  

Good, wholesome food is an important part of life. It is more than just fuel; it brings family and friends together and has the ability to lift spirits and to inspire,” says Gilly.

Please remember to ‘Like’ ClemenGold’s Facebook page as well as comment and ‘Like’ Catherine’s remarkable dessert kiss that is served with her own pulled nougat.

For my very own Nougat Recipe do buy my Cook Book “Jackie Cameron Cooks At Home” and use Wedgewood Nougat for a scrumptious option.

Enjoy the warmth that is creeping into our days.

Explore my website to find out more about my WOMEN'S chef range - men's to come shortly; remember Jackie Cameron Cooks At Home and all my foodie adventures.I always look forward to hearing from you on jackie@jackiecameron.co.za.

For the latest on local foodie news add me as a friend on Facebook - jackie.cameron.161
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Food styling and recipe development: Elaine Boshoff

All photos where taken by:
Kate Martens Photography
Contact details:
Cell Phone: 082 879 8328
Website:  www.katemartens.co.za
Twitter : @kate_martens