Makes approx. 25 pieces
200g macadamias, roasted and roughly chopped
100g dried apricots, chopped
100g dried figs, chopped
400g raw caster sugar
150g liquid glucose (available from supermarkets)
2 egg whites (from extra large eggs)
4 sheets edible sweet rice paper
Line a 23cm square cake tin with cling wrap and line the base with 2 sheets of rice paper. Turn the oven onto its lowest setting. Spread the dried fruit and macadamias onto a baking sheet and put into the oven to warm. Into a small heavy based saucepan put the caster sugar, honey, glucose and 100ml of water, heat over a medium high heat stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to heat until the sugar syrup reaches about 120°C (on a sugar thermometer).
At this point whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer until stiff peaks form, continue to heat the syrup until it reaches 138°C (for a softer nougat) or to 150°C (for a harder nougat), this will take 8-10 minutes, you must keep a close eye on the sugar thermometer during this stage.
Once the sugar syrup has reached the desired temperature remove it from the heat and with the mixer on high slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites. Continue to beat until the mixture is thick and glossy (about 5 minutes). Reduce the mixer speed and fold through the warm fruit and nuts. Working quickly, tip the nougat mix into the prepared cake tin and flatten using a wet offset spatula, top with the remaining rice paper and leave to set overnight. Turn nougat out and score then slice into your desired portion sizes.
The reason for warming the fruit and nuts is to stop the mixture seizing when they are added and to provide more working time to spread the nougat.
Do not attempt to caste the nougat in a fixed sided pan without first lining it, as it will be very difficult to turn out. If you prefer you can simply lay the rice paper on a clean board and spread the nougat -freeform', topping with remaining rice paper, before setting and cutting.
Like many sugar treats (meringues/toffees etc) nougat is not a fan of humidity, too much moisture in the air will cause it to sweat, so this treat is best made when the weather is dry.
Aussie Bees Go Nuts For Macadamias
Millions of bees are about to go buzzing mad for Australia's beautiful blooming macadamia trees in a fantastic frenzy feast which will play a crucial role in developing the world's finest nut, the only commercially successful native Australian food product.
Marking the first stage of the macadamia growing cycle, the explosion of bees and fragrant pink and white blooms is a natural spectacle lasting around two weeks, starting in Bundaberg at the end of August then drifting south along the eastern seaboard of Queensland and New South Wales to Nambucca, finishing around early October.
This year's blossoming cycle is anticipated to be shorter but much sweeter than previous years with the return of colder winter weather in growing areas producing a return to a more normal growing pattern.
Better farmgate prices have also allowed Australia's world class macadamia growers to improve their investments in making sure their orchards are in great condition to produce an awesome blossoming and high level of nutset, which will eventually ripen into nuts should they reach their full potential.
CEO of Australian Macadamia Society Jolyon Burnett said the strong start to the season has all the makings of a bountiful yield, if the conditions remain favourable. 'Weather conditions are just right for a good quality blossoming, it's very exciting. The shorter cycle will also make life easier for our growers as they will be able to consolidate their tree husbandry over a shorter timeframe unlike previous years which saw milder conditions create an earlier blossoming which lasted over a longer period. Growing Australia's native nut takes lots of loving attention so this should help them to manage and protect their crops better."
Grower Cathy Ferndale said: 'The first sign of flowers always brings a lot of anticipation. It's truly enchanting to watch the trees erupt into new life and the bees do their magic. While there is still a lot of hard work to be done of course between now and harvest, and a good blossoming does not always guarantee a good crop, the season is shaping up quite nicely. Our fingers are crossed the weather keeps working with us over the next six months."
The Australian Macadamia Society is also preparing to create a buzz with the launch of a new research project looking to identify the most effective way for pollination be it through honey bees, native bees or other insects. It is hoped the research will provide valuable new knowledge to enhance the nation's production of macadamias and boost future growth.
Australia is the birthplace of macadamias and this year marks the 40th anniversary of the delicious nut's commercial production dating back to 1974. From humble beginnings, the industry now has over 750 growers who produce around 40,000 tonnes of nuts-in-shell each year, of which 70 per cent is exported to more than 40 countries around the world. Macadamias' reputation and appeal have been built on their unique creamy, buttery flavour and texture, which is a source of great pride amongst those involved in the industry.