Wonders happen when French culinary techniques meet Middle Eastern flavors in one dessert!
A few years ago, on board of Air France flight from LA to Paris, I watched an interesting episode about making a Nougat glacé, which is basically a no-churn ice cream (it doesn’t call for an ice cream machine). Since then, Nougat glacé was on my to-cook list, yet it remained an unchecked box, up until two weeks ago.
My attempt to make Nougat Glacé was always put off merely by fear. The fear to fail in making Italian meringue. Now I realize that my fear was baseless. It held me back from attempting a wonderful culinary adventure with impressive results.
To make this showstopper cake, I collaborated with the young, talented Singaporean chef, and meringue connoisseur chef Derick Koh.
Together with Chef Koh, we created this stunning cake to serve it as a grand finale to a formal ambassadorial dinner that my husband and I hosted at our residence to welcome 2020.
I contributed to the recipe with the choice of flavor, crust, and sugar decoration, while chef Koh adeptly executed the recipe, and did a marvelous job with adorning the cake.
Serving a Kunafe nougat glace´ cake turned out to be impressively popular. It bridges a French delicacy with subtle Middle East flavors. We infused the Nougat Glacé with rose water and added a fair amount of roasted pistachios, dried apricots, and cranberries. The airy dessert was a gentle palate cleanser after a hearty, feast meal loaded with playful textures and heady flavor notes.
I recommend breaking up the steps into three days.
Day #1 Making the nougat glace´
Day #2 Making the crust, and assembling the cake and freezing the whole thing until it is time to serve it
Day#3 Pull the cake out of the freezer and decorate it right before serving it.
Below are the step-by-step photos, which complement most of the directions.
First, beat the cream to stiff peaks and refrigerate. Beat the whites to soft peaks, then sprinkle over the tablespoon of sugar and continue beating to a stiff, glossy meringue and set aside.
Bring the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar to a boil with the water. Let it boil for 4 minutes (250°F/120°C/firm on a candy thermometer). Now add the honey and bring back to the boil.
With the electric beaters running in the whites, slowly pour the syrup in a stream down the side of the bowl for the beaters. Continue beating until the meringue has cooled, which you can tell by feeling the bottom of the bowl. It will take 10 minutes.
Scatter the fruits and nuts over the meringues. Add the whipped cream on top, and gently fold everything together in a circular motion until the cream and nuts are well incorporated into the meringue.
Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap. Transfer the meringue, nuts, cream mixture into the pan loaf, level the surface with an offset spatula. Put the loaf in the freezer for several hours or overnight.
For making the Kunafe/Kataifi Crust, use your hands, break the long threads into shorter ones. On a baking sheet, mix the kunafe with 1/2 cup of coconut oil and icing sugar. Bake at 350 F° for 10 minutes or until the Kunafe/ Kataifi strands are golden brown. Let the Kunafe cool down first and then add it to the surface of the nougat glace mold to form a crust. Put the mold back in the freezer.
When you are ready to serve the cake, make the caramel sugar, and drizzle it over the cake. Follow the steps in the directions below if you wanna form a sugar spun.
I strongly recommend trying to make Nougat Glace at home. It is an excellent crowd-pleaser that you can make it in bigger molds for larger crowds.
A convenient make-ahead and freezer cake, Nougat glacé could be pulled out of your freezer half an hour before serving just to decorate with some piped rosettes or shards of praline. No ice cream machine is needed for Nougat Glacé. It is a no-churn ice cream.
This darker layer that you see in featured photo of the cake is a layer of Store bought mocha ice cream that I added to the cake, but I realized later that it didn’t add much to the flavor. I believe Nougat glace alone is capable of stealing the show.
Kunafe-Nougat Glace´ Cake
Recipe created by Chez Nermine
Executed and styled by chef Derick Koh
Serves 6-8 people
- 1-1/2 cups heavy cream or crème fraîche
- 4 egg whites
- 1/4 cup sugar, plus 1 tbsp for the white
- 2 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoon honey
- ¾ cup chopped toasted pistachios
- ¾ cup of assorted, chopped dried apricots and raisins. (or any favorite dried or candied fruits)
- 200 grams Kunafe
- 1/4 cup icing sugar
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- Beat the cream to stiff peaks and refrigerate. Beat the whites to stiff peaks, then sprinkle over the tablespoon of sugar and continue beating to a stiff, glossy meringue. Set aside with electric beaters at the ready.
- Bring the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar to a boil with the water. Let it boil for 4 minutes (250°F/120°C/firm on a candy thermometer). Now add the honey and bring back to the boil.
- With the electric beaters running in the whites, slowly pour the syrup in a stream straight into the beaters or down the side of the bowl for the beaters. Continue beating until the meringue has cooled, which you can tell by feeling the bottom of the bowl. It will take 10 minutes.
- Scatter the fruits and nuts over the meringues. Add the whipped cream on top, and fold everything together gently until well incorporated
- Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap.
- Dump the meringue, nuts, cream mixture into the pan loaf and put the freezer for several hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.°
- Break the Kunafe/kataifi threads into shorter strands.
- Mix Kunafe with the coconut oil, and icing sugar. Spread the kunafe in a thin layer on a large baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until it is crispy and golden. Let the kunafe cool to room temperature.
- Get the mold of nougat glace out of the freezer, press the golden threads over the nougat glace´ to form a crust. Put it back in the freezer until you are ready to serve it.
- In a heavy saucepan, add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar. With a wooden spoon, dissolve the sugar and let the syrup boil until it turns deep amber.
- Remove from heat.
- Dip two forks in the caramel and drizzle it over the cake.
- Drizzle the caramel using the two forks on a medium-size metal or glass bowl. Let the caramel harden. When it is completely cool, slide off the hardened sugar spun and put it in the middle of the cake. You can fill the spun with fruits or nuts or both.
- I advise against adding another ice cream cake flavor to this cake. The nougat glace´ is already fairly loaded with the flavors of nuts and dried fruits.