Monday, December 11, 2006


I've always wanted to try this recipe, ever since watching chef Pascal Pinaud create a sculpture out of it when I was in cooking school. It's been a few years since I saw that demo, and while the recipe looked simple, I guess I was still expecting some difficulty. As it turns out, I had nothing to fear but the Frenchman himself. You need only four ingredients:

9 oz sliced almonds
9 oz granulated sugar
9 oz glucose or corn syrup
3 oz water

The procedure is just as simple. Put the sugar, glucose and water in a heavy-bottomed pan and bring to a boil. Do not agitate the pan. Eventually the water will boil away, and steam will stop rising from the boiling mixture. Continue to boil until the sugar turns a medium-amber color, and then kill the heat. Stir in the almonds.

Pretty easy stuff, isn't it? You don't even have to use a thermometer! And that's good, because the recipe I have doesn't even have tempuratures listed. Don't worry, this isn't so much a matter of tempurature as it is a matter of color. There is one problem, though. I know this looks like a brittle, and it even tastes like a brittle, but there is a difference. Brittle is a little more, well, pourable. You can't exactly pour this stuff. But you can use the spoon to scoop it out onto a greased sheet pan, or even a sheet pan covered with Silpat.

This stuff isn't going to get flat on its own, and believe me, you don't want to be munching on it when it's one big, hard ball of sugar and almonds. So go ahead and grab a rolling pin. This is one of the few times I break out my marble rolling pin, but I'm sure wooden will be just fine. Either way, you will want to grease the pin lightly. Go ahead and roll it out as thing as you like, but try not to make it any thicker than 1/4-inch.

When you've got it all nice and rolled out, go ahead and let it cool. Well, unless you want to sculpt it, that is. This stuff is pretty bendy when it's warm. It's also pretty easy to cut. If almonds weren't so expensive, you could build a nougatine house instead of a gingerbread house. Since we're probably going to be eating this instead, go ahead and let it cool, and then break into pieces.

Go ahead, have a bite. It's kind of buttery, isn't it? And you didn't have to use butter to achieve that. It's all almond fat that you're tasting. Delicious almonds and sugar, ready for your next holiday party.

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