The very first time I encountered Turkish Delight was in primary school. It was in year 2, I would have been about 7 years old. I remember that we were reading the book written by C.S Lewis - The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. To seven year old me, it was a fascinating story. How cool would it be if you could walk into your wardrobe and walk out the back of it into another world? You see, I don't even remember much of the story (though the semi recent movie release helped me to relive the memories of the book). One thing I do remember, is the part where the the White Witch bribes Edmund with some 'magical turkish delight'. Our year 2 teacher, Mrs Lewis, then brought in some Turkish Delight for us to try (yes, how uncanny is that, though I don't think I quite realised the coincidence at the time).
Even though the piece of Turkish Delight that I had that day did not contain any real magical powers, the experience of biting into my first ever piece of Turkish Delight was indeed quite magical. It was soft, sweet and just melted in your mouth when you chewed it and the very faint taste of rosewater was quite heavenly. As time went on, that memory was pushed right into the back of my mind and the next time I did encounter Turkish Delight again was a very foul tasting Cadbury chocolate covered Turkish Delight bar. I'm not sure if the flavour was too strong, or perhaps even too artificial but I was so scared to ever touch any Turkish Delight again. It's only been in the recent years that I have begun to enjoy the wonders of real Turkish Delight again. And I just love rosewater flavoured sweets, as long as it's done right with just the right amount of rosewater as to not be too overpowering or even soapy tasting.
Turkish Delight is actually relatively easy to make with just a few ingredients and using the cheats method. Authentic Turkish Delight does not contain gelatine and is made with corn flour which you kind of need to stir and cook over a long period of time. I didn't quite have the time to spare so I thought I would try the cheats recipe which uses gelatine to help set the Turkish Delight. I also put a bit of my own spin on it and added pistachios as I like the flavour combination. I'd mix the nuts in next time though as using them as a 'crumb' on the outside didn't quite work out. This recipe made a much firmer Turkish Delight than what I was hoping for, but everyone absolutely loved it so it might just be a personal preference thing. Plus it was a very very cold weekend when I was making it. I might try the more authentic recipe next time.
Recipe: Rose and Pistachio Turkish Delight
Makes approximately 28 x 1 inch squares
(From original recipe in the book: Indulgence Petits Fours: A Fine Selection of Sweet Treats by Murdoch Books)
- 280ml water
- 3 tbsp powdered gelatine
- 440g sugar
- 1 strip lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp tartaric acid
- 1-2 tsp rosewater, to taste
- pink food colouring
- Crushed pistachios
- 100g icing sugar
- 60g cornflour
1. Brush a 7 x 4 inch baking tin with water
2. Combine the water and gelatine in a saucepan and heat over low heat until gelatine is dissolved.
3. Add the sugar, zest and juice and stir until sugar is dissolved.
4. Bring to the boil and continue to boil for about 8-10 minutes, stirring continuously (you can use a sugar thermometer to check the temperature which should sit around the 90-100 degrees celcius mark - soft ball stage).
5. Discard the zest and add the tartaric acid and rosewater into the sugar mixture and stir to combine.
6. Add the food colouring a few drops at a time until the desired colour strength is reached.
7. Stir in the pistachios and then pour into the baking tin, cover and leave to set overnight.
8. Sift the cornflour and icing sugar into a bowl or deep dish. Dust a few tablespoons of the mixture onto a cold hard surface.
9. Ease the Turkish Delight away from the edges of the tin and gently pull on all sides until it comes out of the tin.
10. Place on the icing sugar dusted work surface and using an oiled knife, cut the Turkish Delight into one inch squares. Toss them in the icing sugar mixture to coat all sides.
11. Store in an airtight container, they will keep well for many weeks.
Don't be an idiot like me and make sure that your tin is water proof/leak proof before you start.
This looks like a lot because I always at least double the batch of whatever it is I am making.
A sugar thermometer does come in handy to make sweets.
First go my tin started leaking, second time I realised the pan was much too wide for the quantity I was making.
Third time lucky. I also forgot to add the pistachios in the mix and thought that I would coat the Turkish Delight with the nuts. I left it a bit too long so it had set firm by the time I got back to it so my nuts didn't stick as much to the surface as I had wanted. You can omit them completely if you don't want nuts.
Coating the underside with more nuts after I had flipped it out of the tin.
Bit of a production line happening.
Completed, my final product.
You may have recently seen some photos with the hash tag #thesweetswap doing the rounds on various social media platforms. The Sweet Swap, is a great initiative for bloggers organised by two fantastic bloggers where you register your name and pay a small fee which is then donated towards a specific charity. Three random names are then pulled out of a hat and assigned to you as your sweet swap buddies. You then have to make a sweet item, enough for three portions and post them to the people you have been assigned. You also get three different packages of sweets in return. You can read more about it on the website.
I kind of registered myself as a last minute afterthought, squeezing it in to my already hectic schedule. I thought to myself 'oh I am sure I can quickly bake something in the little spare time I have in between things'. When I reread the conditions, it was sweets/candy only and baked goods were not part of The Sweet Swap. I panicked a little as I didn't really have many ideas of what I could make. I'm a baker, not a candy maker!
I was quite excited to receive my three names but was a little miffed when I saw the words 'gluten free' and 'no honey' underneath one of my names. I had thought of a couple of ideas that didn't involve baked cookies or cakes and then had to rethink my ideas when I saw this and in the end chose to make this Turkish Delight for my swap item as it did not contain any gluten or honey (and I made sure that the cornflour I used was 100% gluten free and not the wheaten variety). My three recipients ended up being, Anna -thelittlestanchovy.com, and April - polkadotsandchopsticks.com and Martine (all the way in WA) - www.chompchomp.com.au.
I spent one of my lunch breaks trawling discount stores for some pretty packaging to put my sweets in to. I also found a box of hand made cotton cards from India that were given to me as a present which I thought would be a nice personal touch in comparison to store bought printed tags. As a last minute addition I raided my tea collection and found some peppermint tea from T2 to go with the Turkish Delight. I only had two left though so my third recipient received a lemongrass and ginger tea instead.
The Sweet Swap was kind of like Christmas had come again. Off to the post office I went to send off my three parcels and then I had to sit patiently and wait for three parcels to come back my way. It was exciting but nerve wracking all at the same time. Waiting patiently, stalking instagram to see whether your sweets had reached their final destination intact and whether or not your recipient liked them. Watching others receiving their parcels while your three have not yet made it to your letterbox. And then getting envious of what other people were getting, wishful and hoping that maybe one of those parcels would be en route to your letterbox. I was very glad to see all my three packages arrive safely, and that my recipients all loved what they received. I wasn't sure if they would be a hit and at the rate they were disappearing, I wish I had squeezed in a few more pieces. Maybe the next time I make Turkish Delight again, I will send a surprise refill to them ;)
It was quite nice to come home from work each day to a sweet surpirse (literally). I was quite sad when my final parcel had been delivered as I knew there was not going to be any more sweets coming my way. It was a very fun week that week. I think we should totally do this again for Christmas, how awesome would that be! Though I think that it should be opened to all baked goodies as well (as long as they survive in the post), or at least make the terms and conditions a little clearer because I did see a few baked goodies making the rounds. But the whole idea of sharing sweets is just mega awesome. Thank you so much to Sara and Amanda for organising!!
Chewy Coconut Caramels from The Melbourne Food Snob.
Soft Raspberry Coconut Ice and a Thousand Days Red Jasmine Tea Flower from The Culinary Library.
Granola Choc Bites with puffed rice, jelly beans and Haribo lollies from Just One More Spoon.
One last final shot of my scrumptious Turkish Delight. I was told that someone who doesn't even like eating Turkish Delight enjoyed mine, now that's gotta say something.