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I tried this pistachio nougat recipe once and it came out great. I've tried it two other times and the nougat hasn't set well at all. I'm thinking that this is because the recipe doesnt list a temperature and I probably didn't reach the correct temperature. Is that a good assessment? Additionally, why are most nougat recipes made by adding the syrup to the whipped eggs instead of the whipped eggs to the syrup (like this recipe)? It seems like it would be easier to reduce the mixture to the correct thickness if you added the eggs to the syrup. Thanks![enter image description here

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As you suggest, most nougat recipes require the sugar syrup to be brought to specific temperatures (typically "hard ball" or "soft crack" stage, see for example this page for details of the stages of cooking sugar). By that time, any water that you started out with (in your case in the form of rose water) has boiled off. Simply bringing the mixture up to a boil will not be accurate.

For repeatable results, I suggest you use an instant-read thermometer (or a sugar thermometer) to ensure your sugar syrup is at a consistent temperature. If the nougat does not set, increase the temperature next time.

Regarding your second question: Even in your recipe, you add some of the syrup to the egg whites, to raise their temperature before adding them to the syrup. This is called 'tempering' and is common when using eggs in sweet applications with something hot. In the case of nougat, however, you can probably add the egg whites directly to the syrup, as was pointed out in a comment.

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    The whipped egg whites can be added to the hot syrup even without tempering. Nougat goes way back to ancient times, obviously before thermometers or electric mixers, and according to chef John traditionally nougat is made more like OP's recipe. That said, totally second getting a thermometer for more precise results. allrecipes.com/recipe/246463/…
    – kitukwfyer
    May 13 '20 at 13:08
  • @kitukwfyer Sure, you can make nougat without a thermometer. You would still need to make sure your sugar has reached the appropriate temperature, by taking some of the syrup and cooling it down. This is where the names for the cooking stages ("hard ball" etc) come from. Looks like I was wrong about the tempering, though -- I will edit my answer to reflect this.
    – LSchoon
    May 13 '20 at 13:31
  • @kitukwfyer That's interesting you mention that. I've since seen a few recipes for torrone where they keep the heat very low the whole time and stir the syrup for ~30 mins, whip the eggs, incorporate those slowly, and then stir for 30 mins and it forms a nice hard nougat. But there was no boiling. I have made the recipe above three times. The first time it was great. Second and third times not so much. I noticed it looked sort of grainy (at least the second and third times when I was paying attention) when I add the eggs to the syrup but very smooth when I add the syrup to the eggs.
    – chart
    May 14 '20 at 18:19
  • That grainy appearance IS weird. The sugar water shouldn't boil until it's in solution. Adding the glucose syrup should prevent recrystallization. Only thing I can imagine is so much water boiled off it became super saturated... Good luck anyway!
    – kitukwfyer
    May 15 '20 at 15:40

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