Monday, September 22, 2008

Turkish Delight

When we have children we naively think we will be the teachers. Of course, most of the time we are. If we pay enough attention, we become the students. My most recent lesson has been on the confection, Turkish Delight. My son, a history buff who is partial to sweets, became intrigued by the treats. On my trips abroad I soon became the currier for these sweet and starchy cubes. They have a jelly consistency, and come in several flavors. Lemon, orange and pistachio are the more common flavors for the American palate. The traditional yet more exotic flavor is rosewater. It takes some acclimating since the floral essence is mainly used in scents. Originally called Lokum, it was introduced to the west in the 19th century. A Briton became very fond of the delicacy during his travels to Istanbul, and purchased cases of it, to be shipped back to Britain under the name Turkish Delight. It became a major delicacy not only in Britain, but throughout continental Europe. If you have read C. S. Lewis' "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe", you may be familiar with this sweet. My son researched to find that the Mosquee de Paris, in Paris, France presumably had the best. Guess what my next mission was. In the meantime, he undertook making his own version from a recipe found online. With his laptop propped on the kitchen counter, he measured and stirred and boiled until he came up with a delicious rosewater Turkish Delight. His sister commented that the kitchen smelled like Grandma's house and his dad thought they tasted like aftershave, but remember, the palate has to acclimate to this exotic taste. If you care to try making your own, follow this recipe with help from the online video while humming a few lines from the song "Istanbul, (Not Constantinople)".
After my trek to the Mosquee de Paris, my son had already left for college. A special surprise package was shipped off to him so he could have a little bit of Istanbul in Rochester, New York. I felt his smile all the way back home.

Turkish Delight

recipe adapted from Natasha Levitan for food
For this recipe, you will need:
  • 4 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 4 1/4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp rose water
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • vegetable oil for greasing
  • candy thermometer

Make the Turkish Delight Sugar Syrup

In a medium saucepan, combine lemon juice, sugar, and 1 1/2 cups of water. Turn the heat on medium. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves. When the mixture boils, turn the heat to low.

Insert the candy thermometer into your sauce pan. Allow the mixture to simmer until the temperature reaches 240 degrees on thermometer. Turn the heat off and set aside.

Make the Jelly Base

In a small saucepan, combine cream of tartar, 1 cup of cornstarch, and water. Turn the heat on medium. Continuously stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the lumps are dissolved and the mixture begins to boil. When the mixture achieves a glue-like consistency, stop stirring.

Add in the rose water, water and sugar mixture from the medium pan and stir for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for 1 hour. Stir the mixture frequently so it doesn't burn the bottom of the pan. When the mixture becomes a golden color, add in rosewater and stir until everything is combined.

Pour the Turkish Delight Into a Loaf Size Mold

Oil the sides and the bottom of your container. Pour your mixture into the container and spread it evenly. Place it into refrigerator and allow to cool overnight.

Serve or Store the Turkish Delight

Take out the mold out of the refrigerator and free it from the mold. Cut it into 1 inch pieces. Place them into a bowl of confectioners sugar, remaining 1/4 cup of corn starch and thoroughly coat them.

You can store your Turkish Delight in an airtight container, separated in layers by wax or parchment paper. Turkish Delight makes a sweet addition to your tea or coffee time.
To follow Natasha Levitan's video click on:

Written and photographed by Diane

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