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Nougat, a delightful aerated confection, is a soft and chewy candy known for its sweet and often nutty flavor and distinctive texture. 

Many food historians traced its origins to the Middle East. Early nougat recipes were found in a book dating back to 10th century Baghdad. These versions were called nāṭif. Later, it spread to Spain and Italy in the 15th century and France in the 17th century. In present day, nougat is most commonly found as part of a composed confection, such as enrobed chocolate bars.

Two distinct types of nougat are recognized for their textural and compositional attributes: short nougat and chewy nougat. Short nougat is defined by its grained, soft, and brief texture, achieved through a formulation with a higher sucrose content and a lower proportion of corn syrup. It typically maintains a moisture level between 13-16%. Conversely, chewy nougat exhibits a tougher texture and is characterized by a higher percentage of corn syrup compared to short nougat, resulting in a chewier consistency. The moisture content of chewy nougat ranges from 5-8%, making it notably firmer than its short nougat counterpart. As an aerated confection, its specific gravity can vary from 0.5 to 0.8, influenced by factors such as the proportion of ingredients as well as the manufacturing process, including mixing, heating, and cooling stages. 

The specific density within this range is determined by the desired texture and mouthfeel of the nougat. A denser nougat will generally have a more compact and solid structure, while a lighter nougat will be softer and airier. Manufacturers carefully control the density during the production process to achieve the desired consistency and texture for the particular type of nougat being produced.

Main Ingredients

The key ingredients in traditional nougat are primarily sugar, honey, roasted nuts (often almonds or hazelnuts), and egg whites. In current industrial production, similar ingredients are used as follows:

  • Sweeteners: Corn syrup and sucrose, mainly. Provides body and its ratio will directly affect the nougat texture (grained vs ungrained)
  • Whipping agents: The most common are egg albumen, soy protein and gelatin. It will stabilize the bubbles within the confection to maintain desired density and texture.
  • Fat: Lubricates for cutting and avoids sticking to the teeth. Shortens texture. The most common is modified vegetable fats due to its price, melting point and resistance to oxidation.
  • Emulsifiers: Promotes the stabilization of the emulsion of fat with the sugar syrup. Examples are Lecithin, mono & diglycerides, sugar ester.
  • Other ingredients: Nuts, dry fruits, milk, flavors and colors.

Industrial Production

The industrial production of nougat involves a series of precise steps and specialized machinery.

Mixing: The initial stage involves combining sugar, corn syrup, honey, and ingredients to make the sugar syrup. This step ensures even distribution and homogenization of the components.

Cooking: The mixture is then heated to a precise temperature to obtain the desired solids. This step could be done in a batch processing type or in a continuous process more suitable for larger volumes, with consistent control of moisture, density, and final temperature. Sugar crystallization occurs during this step. As the mixture is heated, sugar crystals dissolve in the syrup. Upon cooling, the supersaturated sugar solution undergoes controlled crystallization, resulting in the desired crystallized texture or a smooth, non-crystallized consistency.

Whipping agent hydration: Depending on the stabilizer is the amount of water required to properly hydrate it. This water should be considered when formulating to calculate required cooking solids of sugar syrup and total final solids of the candy.

Whipping agent addition and aeration: Once the sugar syrup is cool enough to the right temperature for the stabilizer, this is added and then whipped. In continuous processes, cooked syrup stream and egg syrup stream is mixed through metering pumps into a continuous high shear pressure aerator, whipping to form aerated syrup.

Fat and inclusions addition: Low shear and slow addition to avoid destabilizing the aeration.

Forming and cutting: Once the mixture reaches the desired crystallization state or remains non-crystallized, it is poured into molds and allowed to cool. After cooling and solidification, the nougat is cut into desired shapes for secondary processes such as enrobing or packaging.


The right formula is crucial to achieve the desired attributes and shelf life. 

Use precise ratios of corn syrup and sucrose to control the moisture content and crystallization, if desired.

Crystallization can be promoted by adding “seeds.” This could be either 6x sugar (powdered sugar) or other elements like fondant. 

Choosing between corn syrup types can also be used to manipulate texture. Using lower DE corn syrups provide a chewier texture; Higher DE corn syrups make it more tender.

Fat to shorten texture must melt slightly below body temperature to avoid a waxy mouthfeel.

Packaging Barrier Properties

Shelf Life

Most common shelf-life issues in nougat are:

  • Texture loss: Mainly due to moisture loss or gain. Issues during aeration or stabilizer loss of function can lead to this as well. Over-crystallization during storage can occur too due to moisture loss and make the candy excessively hard.
  • Shape loss: This issue could be caused by many different causes, such as a stabilizer failing, improper storage conditions (high heat, high humidity), a lower density than desired, or an increase in reducing sugars.
  • Fat oxidation: Rancid flavors caused by improper packaging or high storage temperatures.

Proper packaging will protect the product from most of the causes of shorter shelf life.

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