My cousin asked for salted caramel chocolate cupcakes and lemon bars. Believe it or not, it was my first time making lemon bars! I probably should have experimented with that a little more, as I wasn’t perfectly happy with my crust to filling ratio, but it’s hard to go wrong with the flavor. I made both lemon and and lemon-cherry swirl bars as a nod to the wedding colors.
To give the desserts a little something extra, I decided to present the cupcakes and lemon bars on a display stand. I didn’t have enough chocolate on hand to make a chocolate stand and thought nougatine would be a better vehicle for my cousins’s wedding themes of red + gold and succulents. However, in retrospect, nougatine wasn’t the best choice for an outdoor wedding. The display held up, but it sure got shiny and sticky! Next time I’m sticking with using isomalt instead of sugar, or just using something material.
Here is the making of the nougatine, from toasting the nuts, to cooking the sugar and rolling out / cutting the pieces:
- 600g granulated sugar
- 250g sliced almonds, lightly toasted and warm
- Make a dry caramel (or wet, if you don’t want too dark a nougatine) with the sugar in a saucepan.
- Stir in the warm, sliced almonds.
- Immediately pour mixture onto a nonstick silicone mat and spread as thinly as possible.
- Place a second map on top of the caramel and roll out as thin and even as possible. Begin this step as soon as your can handle the heat.
- Remove the top map, carefully life the nougatine sheet and place on cutting board or oiled parchment paper. If mat sticks, then caramel is still too hot.
- Using a knife or cutting mold, cut desired shape, working quickly. If nougatine is too cold to cut or shape, place back on silicone mat and into a 350 degree oven for just long enough to soften.
I was quite limited by the size of my oven at that time, which couldn’t fit a full sheet pan, and thus limited the size of my cylinders and ovals. But, I’d like to think there was something “organic” or “artistic” about the pieces I built with 🙂 I added succulent trimmings to my nougatine leaves/petals to tie everything together: