Last Wednesday, May 29th, was my 37th birthday and the blog’s second and we celebrated both with nugaton.
Nugaton is, for those who know me from my days in Argentina, my most iconic dessert. This is the one dessert that was never missing in our birthdays and the only cake my brother still wants for his. Nugaton is the dessert I am always asked to prepare when I’m invited to a party back home, and the one that my friends most looked forward to eating whenever I entertained.
It is not, however, a family recipe. Truth be told, the original recipe appeared in a box of Quaker Oats in Argentina, in the ’70s. It quickly popularized because it was ideal for making in a whim, and kids loved it. The original recipe, however, has been modified countless times, as it normally happens in family kitchens, where ingredients and proportions are altered depending on what the person cooking has on hand, or to each family’s taste.
The beauty of Nugaton is not only that it is very simple to make, doesn’t require an oven and can be shaped in any way one wants, but also that the ingredients are few and, generally speaking, easy to find. Because of this, I have been able to make it pretty much everywhere I have lived. Those who know me from Córdoba, New York, Québec, Fuerteventura, Belgrade, Daoukro and Abidjan have all had a taste of this childhood classic and have all loved it.
Now it’s your turn to do it and to let me know how you like it!
The most important part of making nugaton is to get the chocolate oat paste right. For many years, I was unable to get consistent results because, ahem, I had never measured the ingredients (you can see the original page of my recipe notebook HERE and laugh at the lack of precision). I knew how nugaton was supposed to turn out and I just kept adding this and that, and maybe a little more of that other thing until I reached the desired result. This was fine for me, but it made it impossible to share the recipe with anyone else, as you can imagine!
This time, because I was going to share the recipe with you, I wanted it to be precised, so I measured everything and I am confident that you will be able to enjoy a delicious home made nugaton, that will look and taste the same as mine does- or even better!
Now, just one important recommendation before I leave you with the recipe: try to use ingredients that are the best quality possible. When a recipe uses very few ingredients, as in this case, each of them affects the final taste, so the better the quality, the better the results. And even though I don’t normally make specific brand recommendations, in this case I will because, in my experience, it makes a difference. So there it goes: use Quaker oats when making it. Trust me on this one!
You will notice that, in this recipe, I use 70% chocolate and may wonder if it can be made with cocoa, and the answer is yes, it can. In fact, my mum makes it cocoa most of the time, and I will give you the quantities for it too. You can also use half chocolate and half cocoa. And even though the original recipe uses butter, if you, like me, cannot eat dairy, it can be replaced by dairy-free margarine. The same goes for milk: the original recipe calls for cow’s milk, but I normally replace by oat, almond or hazelnut ones that go really great with this dessert.
Here is the recipe:
Ingredients: 300 grs butter or dairy-free margarine , 350 grs dark chocolate (70%) or 100 grs dark chocolate + 3/4 cup cocoa, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 350 grs sugar, 500 grs oats, 200 ml milk (I use oat, almond or hazelnut milk), two packs of cream crackers.
1) Melt butter/margarine and chocolate together in a saucepan
2) Put the oats and sugar in a big saucepan and mix well.
3) Pour the margarine/chocolate sauce over the oats and mix well. At this time, you will notice that it feels like the sauce is not enough to coat the oats. Don’t worry, keep mixing.
4) Bring the mixture to slow heat and continue stirring all the time. Add milk in small doses, mixing very well after each addition. After a few minutes, you will notice that the oats start to cook,and the paste becomes easier to work with. When this happens, mix one more time, remove from the heat and continue stirring for a couple of minutes.
5) Put a little bit of paste at the base of the plate where you will present your nugaton, so that the crackers stay in place. Add one layer of crackers and then put a couple of tablespoons of nugaton paste on top. Spread the paste well all over the top, using a spatula.
6) Continue layering crackers and paste until you have approximately 6 tablespoons of paste left. When this happens, put the last layer of crackers and then pour all the remaining paste on top. Working with a spatula, spread and smooth the paste all along the top and sides of the cake, as you would with any frosting. Decorate as desired and put it in the refrigerator until one hour before serving.
What is your most iconic dessert, the one that people always ask you to do over and over again?
Please, share with me in the comments below!