The nougat of Montélimar is a famous candy made in the South of France. To make the sweet treat, a mixture of sugar, egg whites, lavender honey, vanilla, almonds, and pistachios is poured into bread-lined molds. The paste progressively hardens and after a few hours, the nougat is removed from the mold and cut into various shapes.
Originally, nougat was made according to traditional family recipes, often including walnuts. But when almond trees were introduced to the area, they replaced walnuts in the standard recipe and the nougat of Montélimar was born!
The popularity of the dessert began in 1701 when the Dukes of Burgundy and Berry, brothers of the French king, were traveling through France from Spain. The two men stopped in Montélimar, where the city offered them a gift of 92 pounds of nougat. Since then, nougat has been considered a traditional gift of the region.
Today, the title “Nougat de Montélimar” is reserved for products with at least 30 percent almonds (or 28 percent almonds and 2 percent pistachios) and 25 percent lavender honey.
A few figures:
– Annual production of nougat : 4500 tons in Montélimar (6000 tons in France)
– Annual production of nougat reserved for ice-cream manufacturers : 500 tons
– The nougat industry employs approximately 300 people in 13 production plants in Montélimar, with only 3 employees staffing the smallest factory, and 160 employees in the largest.
Fresh Apricot and Nougat de Montélimar Muffins
Ingredients (for 12 muffins):
- 6 fresh diced apricots
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 oz Nougat de Montélimar
- 1 ½ cups flour
- ¼ cup ground almonds
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 large eggs
Drizzle lemon juice on chopped apricots. Set aside.
Grease and flour 12 muffin cups. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and ground almonds in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together butter, milk, and eggs. Stir this mixture into dry ingredients and blend until moist.
Cut the Nougat de Montélimar into slices and add to the mixture. Add fruits. Spoon batter into muffin cups.
Bake in an oven preheated to 375° for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for about 3 minutes in pan then remove to cool completely.