Nougat for Maimouna!

When I first learned about the Moroccan (and increasingly, Israeli) post-Passover holiday of Maimouna, I was most excited about the foods—between the traditional dried fruits, dates, and crepes with honey, Maimouna is clearly a festival for the sweet-toothed. I was particularly eager to try zaban (nougat), because, well, candy.

As it turns out, the zaban made at home for Maimouna isn’t like the confection in a Snickers bar. Recipes vary, but most are either a foamy, uncooked meringue, or a honey-flavored soft caramel. Both versions I’ve included are simple to prepare and are served decorated with nuts (almonds or walnuts are traditional), and eaten with a spoon.

Zaban Version 1:

Ingredients

 ¾ of a cup or 4 egg whites (you can use pasteurized egg whites)

3 Tbsp sugar

Dash of almond extract (optional)

Almonds or walnuts
 

Directions

Combine the egg whites, sugar, and almond extract in a bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on high speed for about 8 minutes, or until the nougat looks like heavy whipped cream.

Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. When ready to serve, add the nuts.

Ingredients

¼ cup honey

½ cup sugar

1 egg white

Pinch of salt

Dash of almond extract (optional)

Almonds or walnuts

Directions

In a saucepan combine the sugar, honey, and almond extract with 2 Tbsp of water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture starts to bubble.

In a bowl, combine the egg white and salt, and beat on high speed until the egg white thickens, about 4 minutes.

While beating the egg white, slowly add the hot sugar/honey mixture to the bowl. Beat for another 6-8 minutes. The nougat should be thick and gooey, and stick to a spoon. Decorate with nuts, and serve.

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