For the Month of May, Rachael from Pizzarossa challenged us to make candy but not just any candy! She challenged us to make Turkish Delight, or Lokum.
Ordinarily, I might have baulked at making this less than healthy confectionery, but I couldn’t pass up the challenge given I’ve paid exorbitant amounts of money to purchase ‘authentic’ Rose Turkish Delight in the past. I had my doubts, of course, about whether I could make anything like the ‘real deal’, but I’m happy to report that it is indeed possible! In fact, I though this version was actually better (am I allowed to say that out loud?).
It’s a ridiculously easy recipe to make, though you do have to keep your eye on the timing a bit when it comes to coordinating the cooking of the sugar syrup and the cornflour. And, I have to warn you… the way the mixture looks and smells during cooking is almost enough to turn you off Turkish Delight forever… It’s disturbingly gloopy – think ectoplasm from the movie ‘Ghost Busters’, not to mention an aroma that wouldn’t be amiss in a sweatshop.
Yet, once you add that splash of rose water and dab of pink food colouring it all somehow transforms into the beautiful translucent confection we all know and love. Of course, if floral isn’t your thing, you can always substitute your own flavour preference – orange, mint or lemon are popular choices – just adapt the colouring to match. Add in some pistachios, hazelnuts or crystallized ginger for extra flavour and texture and you’re away laughing. Enjoy!
ROSE TURKISH DELIGHT
- 2 1/4 cups cold water (divided)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 2 cups granulated white sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp rosewater
- Optional – a few drops pink gel or pinch pink powder food colouring
- Powdered confectioner’s sugar for dusting and packing
- Place 360ml (1-1/2 cups) of the water in a medium heavy-based saucepan. Add the cornstarch and cream of tartar and whisk until the cornstarch dissolves completely. Just leave this mixture for now – you’ll be cooking it a little later.
- Place the granulated sugar, lemon juice and the remaining 180ml (3/4 cup) water in another medium heavy-based saucepan over medium-low heat – stir gently until the sugar dissolves.
- Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a boil. Insert a candy thermometer into the saucepan (ensuring the tip is not touching the bottom of the pan).
- Turn the heat back down to low heat and allow it to slow boil without stirring, until it reaches 127°C (260°F) – hard ball stage – on the candy thermometer. This will take 10–15 minutes, depending on how high you have the heat. (NB: Check the next step before you fully cook the sugar, to check when you need to start cooking the cornstarch mixture).
- When the sugar syrup is around 118°C (245°F), place the saucepan with the cornstarch mixture over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. The mixture will become thick and pasty, like wallpaper glue.
- Once the sugar syrup is at 127°C (260°F), remove it from the heat. Very slowly and carefully pour it into the cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly until it is fully combined (it’s easier if you can get someone to pour the sugar for you, as you continue to whisk).
- Reduce the heat to minimum and let it cook gently, whisking it every 5 minutes or so, for about 40 minutes, until the mixture has turned a light golden-yellow colour and is very thick and gluey. Be careful not to let it scorch – use a heat dispersal mat, if necessary.
- Meanwhile, prepare a 15 x 15cm (6 x 6”)* slice or cake pan by lining with plastic wrap with plenty of overhang, and lightly coat with vegetable oil or non-stick spray.
- Remove mixture from the heat and carefully whisk in the food colouring (if using) and the rosewater. Pour into the pan (you’ll need to work quickly, as it starts to set straight away) and level with a silicon spatula. Allow it to cool.
- Once completely cooled, loosely fold the plastic overhang over the top and let it set at room temperature for 6–8 hours or overnight.
- Turn out of pan onto a board dusted with powdered sugar, remove the plastic wrap and dust the top with powdered sugar, then cut into pieces with a large, lightly oiled sharp knife. Dust the pieces with powdered sugar and pack in an airtight container in more powdered sugar.