Turkish delight is a richly evocative sweetmeat that originated in Turkey in the sixteenth century. Its appeal belies its simple ingredients of starch and sugar, with a dash of lemon and rosewater for flavour.
It’s soft, sticky and often dusted with icing sugar to prevent untoward stickiness. Some Turkish delight contains small pieces of nuts, most commonly pistachio, hazelnut or walnut.
The first Turkish delight would have contained honey, molasses and flour to bind. Since its introduction to the West in the nineteenth century, the ingredients have changed somewhat. And so has the name. Originally called ‘lokum’ (and it still is, in Turkey), the sweet treat became known as Turkish delight to Britain and Europe, who went mad for the soft, sugary sweet, devouring it by the bucketload.
Many children’s first experience of Turkish delight may come from the children’s book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C S Lewis. In the story, Edmund Pevensie is tempted by the beguiling sweet by the cunning White Witch.
Here’s a recipe that will surely leave you as helpless as Edmund after his first bite of this exotic and mysterious sweet:
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
•4 cups granulated sugar
•1 1/4 cups cornstarch
•1 teaspoon cream of tartar
•4 1/4 cups water
•1 tablespoon lemon juice
•1 1/2 tablespoons rosewater
•1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Grease the sides and bottom of a nine-inch baking tin with vegetable oil or shortening. Line with wax paper and grease the wax paper.
In a saucepan, combine lemon juice, sugar and 1 1/2 cups water on medium heat. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves. Allow mixture to boil. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer, until the mixture reaches 240 degrees Celsius on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and set aside.
Combine cream of tartar, 1 cup corn starch and remaining water in saucepan over medium heat. Stir until all lumps are gone and the mixture begins to boil. Stop stirring when the mixture has a glue like consistency.
Stir in the lemon juice, water and sugar mixture. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, Allow to simmer for 1 hour, stirring frequently.
Once the mixture has become a golden colour, stir in rosewater. Pour mixture into wax paper lined pan. Spread evenly and allow to cool overnight.
Once it has cooled overnight, sift together confectioners’ sugar and remaining cornstarch.
Turn over baking pan containing Turkish delight onto clean counter or table and cut with oiled knife into one inch pieces.
Coat with confectioners’ sugar mixture. Serve or store in airtight container in layers separated with wax paper.