Keto nougat could be one of the most difficult tasks in my quest to ketonisate traditional Mediterranean recipes. Specifically, in the picturesque islands of Ionian sea, such as Zakynthos and Corfu, nougat is called Mandolato. They consider it as their own heritage. Naturally, this is another example of the deep interconnection of Italy and Greece.
Mandolato is acknowledged as one of the most legendary sweets. At the same time, under the name Nougat, it’s also the favourite sweet of the Venetians. The original sugary version is made with almonds, honey (here we’ll use my Keto honey substitute), sugar and egg whites beaten into a meringue. Produced and consumed all year round, it is named after the Italian word Mandorlato meaning: filled with almonds. During the winter, it can be kept at the room temperature for up to 15 days. On the other hand, during the summertime, it needs to be consumed within 7 days.
Mandolato story from the Byzantine era
Mandolato became known due to the Emperor Justinianus. He simply adored it! There’s a legend about his secret encounters with the future Empress Theodora. The legend says that he would always bring Mandolato to Theodora as an aphrodisiac.
The authentic recipe has been obtained sometimes in the 18th century and its flavour has been the same until present times. The best Mandolato comes from the Ionian islands where it is offered in abundance. The islands of Corfu and Zakynthos take pride in this delicacy. However, if you want to stay in ketosis, don’t even have a bite of the original version. It’s overloaded with sugar!
Keto Nougat or Mandolato – is it possible?
Nougat or Mandolato is known in all countries of the Mediterranean basin. You can read more about its popularity in this great article. However, the excess amount of sugar and honey in the original recipe, literally makes it Keto unfriendly! The original version doesn’t include oven drying. The dessert is left on the room temperature overnight to dry. The thickening occurs due to melted sugar hardening. Keto nougat, on the other hand, will have to be placed into the oven, but not baked, only dried. The process is not very complicated and I will give my best to describe each step thoroughly so that your Keto Nougat (Mandolato) turns out as successful and seductive as the original version is!
Let’s get to work, shall we?
Keto Nougat (Mandolato)
- 2 large egg whites free-range
- 100 g (1 cup) granulated stevia-erythritol sweetener
- 200 g (3/4 cup) Keto honey substitute Recipe link in the description
- 150 g (1 cup) roasted almonds organic
- 1 tsp ground vanilla bean organic
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together the Stevia-Erythritol sweetener, Keto honey substitute, and salt, until evenly mixed. Place over medium-high heat and add a candy thermometer to the pot. Cook without stirring until it reaches 104ºC (220ºF)
- While the syrup is on the stove, put the egg whites in the standing mixer bowl. Add lemon juice. When the syrup reaches 120ºC (260ºF), start beating the egg whites on medium speed until stiff peaks form. When the temperature reaches 140ºC (280ºF) remove the pan from the heat.
- Increase the mixer speed to very high. Slowly and carefully drizzle the hot syrup into the whipping egg whites. Beat until the mixture gets very thick and glossy approximately 8 minutes). Add in roasted and crushed almonds and stir with a spatula. (You can roast the almonds in the oven at 120ºC (260ºF) for 12 minutes before you start preparing the Keto Nougat).
- Line a big baking sheet with baking paper and pour in the mixture. even it with a spatula.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven at 60ºC (140ºF) and leave the Keto Nougat to dry for 2 hours. After that, using a wet knife, cut it into 24 cubes and let it cool down totally before enjoying it. (have it as a Keto dessert)