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What Is a Nunt?

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  • Written By: L. Whitaker
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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Nunt, sometimes referred to as honey nougat, is a simple Jewish pastry generally served during the celebration of Purim. It includes walnuts and honey and is similar to nougat or brittle. Other versions of traditional nougats can be found in a variety of Jewish cultures and are given out during Purim, Rosh Hashanah, and Passover. Unlike nougat, however, no egg whites are used in nunt and it has a chewier texture than brittle.

Traditionally, nunt is made with a dark forest honey derived from beehives near forests with pine or conifer trees. The honey is cooked with sugar and coarsely chopped walnuts until the sugar is dissolved. The mixture is then spread onto a wet, flat surface and allowed to cool. Once cooled, it is cut into rhomboid shaped pieces and eaten or given as gifts.

Variations on traditional nunt can include the addition of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or ginger. More contemporary recipes include a combination of nuts such as almonds or macadamias. Nunt, like all foods eaten for Purim, is kosher.

The Jewish holiday Purim is celebrated each year on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar. Adar is the sixth month in the Hebrew calendar. It relates directly to the middle to latter half of February in the Gregorian or western calendar.

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Purim is a celebration that commemorates the victory of the Jewish people over their enemies during the time of the ancient Persian Empire in the fifth century BCE. The story, as recorded in the Book of Esther from the Hebrew Bible, tells of a plot by Haman, an adviser to the Persian Emperor, to destroy the Jewish people. It is through Esther's intervention that the Jewish people are spared.

It is a tradition to give mutual gifts of food and drink to friends and family during Purim. While popular, nunt is not the only traditional food served during this celebration. Often seeds and nuts are eaten to honor Esther who, according to the Hebrew Bible, ate only these foods while at the emperor's palace because no other kosher foods were available. Special breads called Ojos de Haman or "eyes of Haman" are baked in the shape of a head with eyes made of eggs that are later plucked out to represent the destruction of Haman. Triangular cookies filled with poppyseed paste or prune filling, which are called Hamantaschen or "Haman's pockets," are also made and given out during this celebration.

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