The holidays have been so wonderful for my entire family this year. I witnessed a proposal. My father’s proposal. To his beautiful wife (and my mother) of almost 34 years. A vow renewal is on the horizon and my heart is full and proud. I think it grew three sizes that day.
This recipe is a new-er tradition for me and also one of my favorite stories to tell. So gather ’round the fire kids, it’s story time.
When Alex and I began dating in the fall a handful of years ago, I was smitten and doe-eyed and ready to call him my significant otter. The problem, we weren’t quite official yet. Alex was about to journey home for the holidays, and I knew this was my moment to make a great first impression on his family even though I wouldn’t be there.
Enter the ultimate Christmas cookie tin complete with my entire arsenal of cookies. But I knew that wasn’t enough. I wanted to add a personal touch. Persian desserts I thought! This will be easy. Until I discovered only recipes in Farce.
After a bit of scouring I found what looked to be a tasty nougat with pistachios. Shout out to CIAO SAMIN for this recipe that made me look so good. Simple ingredients I thought. This will be easy (see a theme here?). The only thing I needed was rose water. 3 days, about 14 stores, and a countywide hunt later I finally found my prized bottle of rose water at a tiny locally-owned Mediterranean restaurant.
Long story short, gaz (it’s true name I learned) is one of Alex’s father’s favorite sweets. Who knew?! Needless to say I made a much bigger impression than intended and here we are 4 years later, making gaz with actual confidence.
I would consider this recipe an intermediate one. As long as you can keep your eye on the sugar temp, pour slowly and avoid distractions you’ll be successful.
If you have never used rose water before, it is such a unique ingredient. Possibly like the Persian equivalent of vanilla extract. Open the bottle and it is like breathing in a freshly cut bouquet of roses. While rose water can be overpowering, this recipe gives the nougat a beautiful and delicate hint of roses.
Boiling sugar for candy recipes can be quite intimidating. This recipe requires a candy thermometer. No eyeballing here. Unless your eyeball has the un’candy’ ability to identify the heat stages of sugar.
My first tip is to spray the container you measure the corn syrup in with cooking spray to allow it to easily release for the container. Second, keep a pastry brush and small bowl of water next to the sugar pot. Use the pastry brush to dissolve any crystals around the edge of the pan. Finally, BE CARFUL! This stuff is the napalm of the candy world. I’m not against wearing safety glasses at home for sugar work. If you think a hot glue gun burn is bad…
Be careful as you slowly pour the sugar into the egg white mixture. Keep the pot as close to the edge as possible because the whisk has a tendency to fling hot sugar around the bowl causing it to harden before it can be incorporated.
When is comes time to turn the nougat out onto your silpat (and please use a silpat) there will be hardened sugar around the edge of the bowl. There really is no avoiding that. Try not to scrape too hard here. You do not want those hardened pieces of sugar fraternizing with your soft, chewy nougat.
Best clean up advice for this recipe: Let it soak.
The nougat will be malleable and get a bit tougher as it cools. I recommend using kitchen shears when the nougat is still slightly warm but not too sticky to cut your bite-sized pieces.
Your little Persian pieces of joy will remain sticky and especially like to stick to each other. Be sure to keep your pieces apart before wrapping them individually or toss in a little bit of cornstarch to prevent some of the sticking.