Pistachio–sour cherry nougat

Pistachio–sour cherry nougat


750 g
Mark Roper

We were in Isfahan a week or so before Persian New Year and the local gaz – nougat – shops were doing a roaring trade as all households need to have vast supplies on hand to dispense during the endless socialising that takes place at this time of year. We enjoyed sampling several different styles: some were set firmer and were chock-full of almonds or pistachios, others were soft and a little bit squidgy and came drenched in cornflour that erupted in a white cloud on eating.

To be honest, making nougat at home is hard work, and you do need basic confectionery skills and a candy thermometer. But the result is so gorgeous – and delicious – that we felt it was well worth including a recipe. We strongly recommend you read the method through carefully to be sure of the timing. It’s important to have everything ready to go – no scrambling around at the last minute for a forgotten ingredient or implement – and imperative that you warm the fruit and nuts before adding them to the nougat mixture. Be organised and you’ll be rewarded!

We’ve used pistachios and dried sour cherries here, but have also used similar quantities of roasted and chopped hazelnuts and chopped dried apricots to great effect. Candied fruit or barberries would work well with pistachios too. By all means experiment with any other pairing that you think will complement the sweetness of the nougat.

If you can resist eating it yourself, gaz makes a lovely gift. Look for edible rice paper – widely available now, including from good supermarkets – which makes for neater presentation and easier serving.


Quantity Ingredient
140g unsalted shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
250g dried sour cherries, roughly chopped
50g egg whites, at room temperature
380g caster sugar
120g liquid glucose
100ml water
230g honey


  1. Preheat the oven to 110ºC. Scatter the pistachios and dried cherries onto a baking tray and put them into the oven to warm while you make the nougat. It’s important that the nuts and dried fruit are warm when added to the nougat mixture, or it will seize up and be unworkable.
  2. Prepare all the ingredients: put the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk; put the sugar, liquid glucose and water into a saucepan; put the honey into another small saucepan. Line a baking tray with edible rice paper or baking paper.
  3. Begin cooking the honey over a medium heat and measure the temperature with a candy thermometer. When the temperature reaches 108ºC, begin whisking the egg whites on medium–high speed. Continue cooking the honey until it reaches 120ºC, by which time the egg whites should have reached the stiff-peak stage. Turn off the mixer and take the honey off the heat.
  4. Now begin gently heating the sugar, glucose and water until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat and bring to a boil.
  5. Meanwhile, turn the electric mixer back on to a low speed and mix the hot honey into the egg whites. When incorporated, increase the speed to high.
  6. Continue whisking until the boiling sugar syrup reaches 155ºC. Slow the speed of the mixer down again and pour in the boiling sugar syrup slowly and carefully until incorporated. Increase the speed of the mixer again and whisk for 3 minutes
  7. Turn off the mixer and, working quickly, take the warm fruit and nuts out of the oven and tip them into the nougat.
  8. Fold in by hand as quickly as you can, then scrape into the prepared baking tray.
  9. Smooth out the nougat with a large, strong spatula to a rough rectangle, about 3 cm deep – don’t try to make it fit the shape of the tray. The nougat will be very stiff to work with, but try to make the surface as even as possible; use a rolling pin if you like.
  10. Cover with a second sheet of rice paper or baking paper. Rest overnight, then cut into portions and store in an airtight container.
Middle Eastern
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