Turkish delight flashes through the markets of Istanbul in sugared drifts, on brass trays, carried by young men who offer a free nibble knowing that once you taste a cube you are forever in it’s thrall.
Early one morning in the 1965 my father entered the Grande Bazaar in Istanbul.
Have you entered the Grande Bazaar?
It is an Arabian Nights illustration come to life. Beneath the vaulted ceilings day and night cease to exist. Blue incense smoke follows you like spirits through shadowed alleys, a thousand glass lanterns glow in shades of blue and green reflecting off of the burnished brass and copper pots lining the stalls.
Cardamon scented coffee beckons from tiny gilt glasses and deeper into the enchanted labyrynth you wander. Lustrous patterned carpets are spread like wildflower meadows beneath your feet.
As my father strolled the stalls, gazing at gold threaded velvet robes here and fragrant mounded spices there, he would from time to time check his wrist watch.
He had fallen down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, so far from Worcester, Massachusetts where he started out.
“I’m late, I’m late for
A very important date.” –The White Rabbit
He had nowhere to be, no one to meet and yet his watch continually flashed before his eyes.
Realizing that he was now in the land of the timeless he removed his watch and entering the first store to the right gave his watch to the owner.
I met a man who’s name was time
He said “I must be going”
But just how long ago that was
I have no way of knowing- The Corries
I imagine that watch still floats, unwound, on the tides at the Grande Bazaar.
Although this recipe may seem complicated at first, once you read through it a couple of times and organize your ingredients and supplies, it simple enough. You will be rewarded with sugared pillows of rose petal confection. Placed in a small tin and tied with a satin bow it is an un-forgettable gift.
- 3 1/4 cups water
- 4 1/2 cups sugar
- 3/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 3 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 cup corn starch
- 3 tsp rose water
- 2-3 drops pink food coloring if desired
- 1 cup powdered sugar (for dusting)
- 1 cup chopped nuts of your choice
First off guys, this is candy. Candy is a petulant creature, humidity and altitude can significantly affect the texture of any candy. Try making meringues on a rainy day and you'll understand what I mean. So understand that once in a while a tried and true candy recipe fails for no discernible reason. Them's the risks.
Secondly you will be working with hot syrup. A burn from hot sugar syrup is serious, pay attention and save that glass of wine to drink while the candy is setting. Thank you for listening
Line your tin or mold with oiled plastic wrap allowing, the extra to hang over the sides. I used a square 8X8" cookie tin.
In a medium sized sauce pan, over medium heat, bring your sugar, 2 cups of the listed water, and zest to a boil. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Reduce your heat to medium low and keep the mixture at a simmer. Stir every few minutes with a wooden or silicone spoon. Clip your candy thermometer to the side of the pan and check until your syrup reaches 240 F (115 C).
Meanwhile while your sugar syrup is cooking.
In another saucepan whisk together remaining water, cornstarch and cream of tarter over medium heat. Whisk your corn starch mixture until it comes to boil. Really put your back into the whisking because there should be no lumps.
If you look into the pot and think "Oh crap, a giant blew his nose right into the pot while my back was turned" then you have the correct consistency.
When your sugar syrup just reaches 240°F(115°C) pour your syrup into the cornstarch mixture bit by bit. Stir well after each addition until all the syrup is incorporated into the cornstarch. Whisk like the devil until the two mixtures are fully incorporated.
Turn on a good podcast or invite a friend over for coffee. You are now a servant to the Turkish delight recipe. For one hour you will need to thoroughly stir the pot every 2-3 minutes. Keep the mixture on super low heat the whole time.
After an hour passes remove from the heat. Stir in the rose water with the correct food coloring if needed to heighten the color. This would be the time to add the nuts.
Pour the viscous mixture into your mold. Leave out on counter until firm. 10-12 hours.
Do Not Place In Fridge! Do Not Place In Fridge! Do Not Place In Fridge!
Once firm, remove from the mold and cut into squares. Toss your squares in confectioners sugar.
Your turkish delight will last a week or maybe two. I have had success with placing those desiccant packets you receive in new shoe boxes in my closed tin. It keeps my candy from weeping.
Awww weeping candy, I just got a little sad, not joking.