Montélimar in the Drome has made France’s most famous nougat since the 17th century, when the first almond trees planted in the area began to produce. Two varieties of nougat—white, black (with grilled almonds and caramelized honey) and sometimes the red (rose flavoured with pistachios)—are part of the 13 Christmas Desserts in Provence.
The recipe for nougat first appeared as a sweet called ‘natif’ in a cookery book in Baghdad in the 10th century. By the 11th century they were making it all around the Mediterranean.
Nougat de Montélimar is made with lavendar honey— which gives it its distinct taste—egg whites, and sugar whipped into a sticky paste before adding vanilla and almonds, pistachios or candied fruit. Then it is shaped in bars, or ‘dominoes’ (bite-sized pieces).
Images by jean-louis Zimmermann, Palaisbonbons, Creative Commons License