French Nougat

2 cups sugar

1-1/2 cups light corn syrup

1/4 cup water

1/4 tsp salt

2 egg whites

4 tbsps soft butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped nuts – I use pistachios and almonds, half and half

Combine the sugar, corn syrup, water and salt in a heavy 3 qt saucepan.  Cook, stirring over low heat until the sugar dissolves, then turn it up to medium, use a candy thermometer, and bring it to 250 degrees – do not stir during this time.

Just before the syrup reaches 250, beat the egg whites on a mixer till stiff but not dry.  I do this with my whisk attachment, then when dry, I take the whisk off and put the paddle on.  When the syrup reaches 250, pour in a slow steady stream 1/4 of it into the egg white mixture with the mixture running.  Continue beating the egg white mixture till it almost starts to hold its shape.  Meanwhile, continue cooking the sugar mixture over medium heat (do not use too high heat or you can scorch the mixture – this takes patience and time) until it reaches 300 degrees.  When it reaches 300, pour the syrup slowly into the egg white mixture, with the mixer running.  When the mixture begins to hold its shape, add the butter and the vanilla.  Continue beating until thick and satiny – this will not take long.  Stir in the nuts.

Immediately push out into a WELL BUTTERED 8″ square pan.  Press it in evenly with buttered fingers.  Let stand at least 2 hours or overnight.

Turn the nougat out onto a cutting board (you might have to coax it out with a butter knife).  Using a large sharp carving knife, cut into 1 x 1-1/2 inch pieces.  Wrap each piece in a small piece of plastic wrap.  Store in a tightly covered container in a cool dry place.

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