March 26th is National Nougat Day. Nougat is a chewy confection that is featured in a number of candy bars like 3 Musketeers, Milky Way, and Snickers and is most often made with toasted nuts, whipped egg whites, and a sweetener like sugar or honey. Additional ingredients like chocolate, fruit, and even petals are not uncommon in certain regions.
History of Nougat Day
The history of National Nougat Day is obscure but the history of Nougat itself stretches as far back as the Roman Empire! The word Nougat is thought to come from the Latin nux gatum, a type of honey and nut cake that Romans ate; however, the original recipe for nougat is thought to have come from Arabian people, who cultivated tree nuts and honey for centuries. An Arabian cookbook from Baghdad in the 10th century describes the first documentation of white nougat, one which is made from whipped egg whites, honey, and almonds. The delicious recipe for this chewy treat spread up into Europe, changing as it went.
In 15th century Spain, confectioners created Turrón de Alicante, a white nougat held between sheets of rice paper and sweetened with sugar, which gives it a crunchier texture. They also created Turrón Jijona by milling and heating Turrón de Alicante, producing a silky peanut butter-like paste. The Spanish loved these creations so much that they even formed a Turrón Museum to preserve their history!
During the Middle Ages, nougat spread into France, where it was called nogat. By the 16th century, the French had created two unique versions. The first was a black nougat which is made without egg whites and is much harder than white nougat having a texture similar to nut brittle. The second was Nougat de Montélimar, a white nougat that uses such a precise ratio of almonds to pistachios that the producer has requested a PGI for the recipe. Both nougats are used in traditional French Christmas celebrations with black nougat sometimes representing evil and white nougat representing good.
As the nougat recipe spread, it continued to change. The Viennese or German nougat substitutes hazelnuts for almonds, adds chocolate, uses sugar, and removes the egg whites. The product is somewhat crumbly but smooth like praline. In the United States, manufacturers used corn syrup as the sweetening agent leading to the fudge-like nougat we know and love!
Nougat Day Unites People
Nougat has a history almost as rich as its taste. The making of nougat has become a part of the identity, culture, and economy of many nations, and today we can connect with those roots be it by making our own nougat from scratch or purchasing some to delight in. In the United States, the nougat-filled candy bars have sweetened childhoods for generations. People may disagree on which of the many unique flavors is their favorite, but no one can argue against the popularity and persistence of this sweet. So, go out there and celebrate, sharing nougat is the best way to sweeten anyone’s day.
Make your own Nougats
The best way to celebrate Nougat Day is to sink your teeth into some of the sweet stuff! If you have the time and patience, why not try making some yourself?
Can’t eat eggs? No problem! Here is a vegan nougat recipe
Don’t be afraid to get creative! Nougat can go with almost anything. Try experimenting with Nutella, dried fruit, or even candy!
If you’re like me, you probably don’t have the patience to whip up your own batch. Luckily for us, there are a plethora of candy bars at the local convenience store which feature nougat. Look for a Snickers, 3 Musketeer, Baby Ruth, Zero bar, or anything else with nougat!
Ways to Celebrate and Bring People Together with Nougat Day
Everyone Bring Nougats! If you go to school or an office, or just getting together with friends, have everyone bring something with nougat. Either a store bought bag of mini candies, or their homemade recipes.
Have a nougat party! Get a variety of ingredients for creating all kinds of nougat. Be creative and even get some unusual ones. Then invite your friends to come over and create their own varieties. It is also fun to have each guest bring their own ingredients to add to the nougats. Share ingredients from different cultures for varieties that are different then your normal flavors.
Share nougats with friends and family. Make your own and take some to a neighbor or friends house. Make nougats with your children to give to their teacher. Make some nougats for your co-workers.
Nougat Day is all about sharing the love of this delicious sweet treat. Enjoy it with friends and family!
Celebrate Nougat Day on Social Media
Be sure to post pictures of your tasty treats on social media. Why not use one of the following prompts:
· Today is Nougat Day! What is your favorite candy bar with nougat?
· What’s the best thing about today? It’s #NationalNougatDay !
· You never need an excuse to eat nougat, but today you have one! Happy Nougat Day!
· I used to think 3 Musketeers had a weird taste, but nougat used to it! Happy Nougat Day!
· It’s Nougat Day! In celebration, try saying nougat out loud. No, really, try it. It’s a fun word.