Growing up in South Africa during the 1950’s and 1960’s a special treat on occasional Saturday evenings would be Callard & Bowser’s Dessert Nougat. Imported from England in an elegant sky blue box, each finger-long piece was individually encased in rice paper, wrapped in matte silver paper and doled out with reverence by my parents to my brothers and I. The nougat was soft and creamy, studded with pieces of almonds and ruby red
cherries – absolutely delicious - the epitome of gourmet candy to our young palates.
Sadly, the Callard & Bowser factory closed down some years ago and our Saturday night treats became just another nostalgic childhood memory, until I was visiting my family in South Africa about 4 years ago. After dinner on a Saturday night my mother said she had a special treat and brought out a package of a locally-made nougat, which was just delicious – we couldn’t get enough of that soft, creamy delicacy with the crunchy nuts. It soon became apparent that nougat-mania was rampant in South Africa – there were a large number of different brands and flavours on the market – it was a nation-wide sensation.
On my return to Vancouver, Canada, I scoured the stores and specialty candy shops, but could find nothing that even compared to the delectable nougat I’d eaten in South Africa and the meager supply I’d brought back with me was rapidly dwindling. A crazy idea was slowly growing in my mind – I’m a good cook and a terrific baker, why couldn’t I learn to make nougat? How difficult could it be? I started researching recipes on the internet and every weekend I’d try one or more, but couldn’t quite find the right formula and was becoming quite pessimistic after more than 6 months of failures. Then I remembered a newspaper article about nougat that my mother had sent me a few months earlier which I’d set aside to read later. Not only did it give me some background information about nougat, but it also had a recipe and step-by-step instructions for making it! After another 6 months of experimenting and tweaking the recipe I was ready to try it out on my colleagues at the large law firm where I work as a real estate paralegal – it was an immediate hit.
We decided to try selling our Kalley Kandy Honey Almond Nougat at the local Farmer’s Markets held on the weekends during the summer in Vancouver and had very moderate success that first year, as Canadians had to be coaxed to try samples of our amazing product. Our second year confirmed that our nougat was a viable product, and this last summer was so successful we were barely able to keep up with the demand, as we’re still lovingly making it in small batches, and cutting, wrapping and packaging it by hand.