Montélimar, in the heart of the Drôme Provençale, is renowned for its quality of life and its excellent products: honey, almonds… No wonder it has made nougat one of its specialties. The opportunity to learn more about this essential confectionery.
© Adobe Stock / asab974 – The nougat of Montélimar
Did you know ? The color of the nougat varies mainly according to the cooking of its ingredients. Renowned for its smoothness, white nougat is a mixture of honey and whisked egg whites, cooked in a double boiler, slowly stirred for nearly five hours. It is only when its white paste has doubled in size that the cooked sugar is incorporated into it. We then add almonds before molding the dough. Usually, white nougat is eaten for dessert. Unlike black nougat, white nougat bars must sit overnight in molds in order to be served.
… or black
The black nougat on the other hand is a tasty mixture of honey, egg whites and almonds that are cooked over high heat, stirring vigorously for forty-five minutes so that the honey is caramelized. Rigor is required. It only takes a few seconds of inattention for the nougat to be overcooked and retain a burnt taste! The nougat will be cut into a bar just a few hours after molding.
A little history…
© Adobe Stock / Serge Black – Almond, the main ingredient in Montélimar nougat
Nougat is a Provencal specialty born in Marseille. It owes its letters of nobility to the agronomist Olivier de Serres who, in the 18th century, established the almond tree in Provence.. The almond then supplants the walnut, present in the original recipe. And the nougat of Montélimar becomes essential. They are offered to distinguished guests who stop by the city. In 1701, returning from a trip to Spain, the Dukes of Berry and Burgundy, grandsons of Louis XIV, receive some as a gift. In no time, this delicacy becomes famous in France and beyond …
A Provencal tradition
© Adobe Stock / Martine A Eisenlohr – Nougat from Montélimar, one of the 13 Christmas desserts in Provence
Montélimar nougat is one of the thirteen desserts traditionally served on the Christmas table in Provence. Along with dried fruit, the “oil pump”, a cake flavored with orange blossom and fresh fruit, it is one of the four essential desserts. They are called the “four beggars” in reference to the four religious orders who have taken a vow of poverty. The white nougat and the black nougat represent the penitents.
13 nougat makers still make Montélimar nougat today. The house of Arnaud Soubeyran, founded in 1837, is the oldest. For four generations, the family business has perpetuated the heritage of regional nougat. The museum (External link) du Nougat à Montélimar (External link) traces its history as well as that of this delicacy with such a special flavor.
For all gourmets
© Adobe Stock / Pictures news – Frozen nougat
In cake, cake, ice cream… Montélimar nougat, as we know it, has been revisited in every way. Great chefs are now revisiting the recipe for traditional Montélimar nougat. Like Alain Ducasse and his orange nougat or even Cyril Lignac and his iced nougat with honey and candied fruit.
A gourmet break on the way to vacation
Montélimar nougat owes its fame to the national 7, the main road that once led holidaymakers to the South of France. Since then, millions of visitors stop at Montélimar every year for a relaxing and gourmet break. Many people nostalgic for their childhood even today stop with their family on the Montélimar motorway rest area to buy nougat typical of the region.