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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Culinary School - Session 76: Nougatine, Marzipan Airbrushing and Pastillage Rocking Horse (cont.)

Culinary School: Session 76 (02.20.15)

Nougatine, Marzipan Airbrushing and Pastillage Rocking Horse (cont.)

Welcome to the world of candied abstraction...

How often do you crave a towering basket made from sheets of caramelized almonds holding several pounds of airbrushed sugar fruit?

Yeah, it's not my go-to snack either... 

And yet, here it is. Idiosyncratic cravings notwithstanding, a Nougatine Basket of Marzipan Fruit. This project was primarily an introduction to manipulating hot sugar (i.e. 350+ degrees Fahrenheit) into various forms.

Nougatine Fruit Basket with Marzipan Fruit

- Ingredients Running Tally -

Ingredients used to date (02.20.15):
  • Flour: 24,190g
  • Eggs: 15,400g (308x)
  • Sugar: 20,300g
  • Butter: 15,440g
  • Milk/Cream: 15,780g
  • Chocolate: 2,925g (since 01.12.15)

    - The Recipes -



    Nougatine is nothing more than sliced almonds in a hard-crack caramel - effectively an Almond Brittle (although for actual Brittle, adding a little baking soda to the caramel as it reaches color helps to soften the texture).

    The Nougatine is poured onto a clean Silpat and rolled to between 1/8" and 1/4" thick. While the Nougatine is still warm and pliable, it can be cut and molded into various forms.

    Deeper caramels have a shinier look, but they set faster. Blonder caramels remain soft and pliable for longer and are therefore easier to cut and mold, but they are prone to crystallization and may take on a cloudy, matte appearance.

    Focus Technique:
    Cutting Nougatine: Like Tempered Chocolate, Nougatine must be cut at the right moment. If the Nougatine is too warm, the pieces will ooze back together, resealing at the cut point. If the Nougatine is too cold, it will crack and shatter into pieces under the pressure of the knife. As a result, it's usually necessary to cut a few pieces and then return the uncut Nougatine to a warm oven for a couple of minutes to soften the product. 
    Molding Shapes from Nougatine: When Nougatine is warm, it is extremely pliable. In this state, it can people molded into countless forms. However, Nougatine cools quickly as it is manipulated and becomes very brittle. It is necessary to work quickly and, should the product become too hard, reheat it in an oven to soften.

    Nougatine Fruit Basket Base

    Nougatine Fruit Basket Bowl

    Nougatine Fruit Basket

    Nougatine Fruit Basket

    Nougatine Fruit Basket with Marzipan Fruit


    Marzipan Airbrushing

    Marzipan and Pastillage are both excellent canvases for airbrushing. The color can be layered to create detailed transitions and highlights, providing more visual depth than the uniform color achieved by dying either medium directly. 

    Focus Technique:
    Layering Colors: Apples are not red. Bananas and not yellow. Realistic coloring is complex and layered: built from base hues, covered in primary tones and accented with final highlights. For fruit, that often means starting with a base layer of green and yellow, regardless of the final color (after all, most unripe fruit is green). 
    Muting Colors: Many air-brush colors are garishly bright. To soften the neon glow, these colors can be mixed with browns and blacks. 

    Airbrush Paints

    Airbrush Tools

    Airbrush Painting Setup

    Airbrushed Marzipan Apple

    Airbrushed Marzipan Cherries

    Airbrushed Marzipan Fruit


    Pastillage Rocking Horse (cont.)

    The multi-step project continues. For visual interest, Royal Icing (a mixture of egg whites and powdered sugar) was used to add for decorative detail. 

    Pastillage Rocking Horse with Royal Icing

    Next - Session 77: Pastillage Showpiece

    Previous - Session 75: Marzipan Fruit and Pastillage Rocking Horse

    Take a look at the full syllabus

    Questions? Comments? Send me an email or leave a comment.
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