If you think that white fluff in a Milky Way bar is nougat, let me just say uhn-uhn. Real nougat is a honey sweetened dense and chewy meringue dotted with pistachios or almonds (sometimes, both) sandwiched between sheets of wafer paper — just to make it easier to handle. It’s the most eye-popping sweet I’ve ever had and I’ve never seen it sold in the states.
My first taste of real nougat was when my grandparents brought some back from a trip to France. This “candy” wasn’t like the everyday treats you gaze mindlessly at while standing in line at the market. It was wrapped in clear, heavy cellophane with an embossed gold label. I could see the waffle-textured wafer paper sandwiching a nut-studded filling. After my first taste, I was completely smitten. It’s not candy. It’s a confection.
And it’s with that memory in mind that I embarked on this cherry nougat crunch ice cream. I found the recipe in the Ultimate Ice Cream Book by Bruce Weinstein. That book has been my muse for frozen treats this summer. As I was scanning its pages, the nougat ice cream was my top pick. The rest of the family had other ideas, like mint and green tea and a more Southern rendition of Chunky Monkey. Well, they had their fun. Finally, my wait was over!
This ice cream is unlike others because instead of a custard base, this is simply meringue and whipped cream (I know, drool…) It’s incredibly light and airy with an intense hit of honey — and it tastes just like nougat.
Because it’s still summertime and I adore cherries, I also added a double dose of summer fruit. Fresh cherries, cut into quarters and dried cherries — soaked in amaretto. Why not? And nuts are a key component. It’s not nougat without them. Almonds and pistachios take it over the moon!
I didn’t use a light touch on my mix-ins here, because I just love lots of textures. Chewy sweet cherries and crunchy nuts — irresistible! You must, must, must try this. And next time you’re abroad, pick up a bar of the good stuff!
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 3/4 cup amaretto
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup chopped salted almonds
- 1/2 cup chopped salted pistachios
- 1 cup pitted fresh cherries, quartered
- Roughly chop the dried cherries and transfer them to a small bowl. Add the amaretto and let sit for one hour until plumped. Strain the cherries, reserving the amaretto for another use (a cocktail, perhaps)
- Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
- In a small heavy saucepan, combine the honey, sugar and water. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for an additional 2 minutes. In a slow, steady, thin stream beat the honey mixture into the egg whites. Continue beating until the meringue cools, about five minutes. Meringue should be glossy and relatively stiff.
- In a separate bowl, beat the cream and almond extract until it's the consistency of sour cream. Fold in the almonds, pistachios, dried and fresh cherries to the cream. Add the cream mixture to the meringue and with a rubber spatula, gently fold it in until completely combined.
- Transfer the mixture to a freezer safe container. Cover and freeze until firm.