Turkish delights are scrumptious little sweets which are delicately flavored, and like most Turkish dishes, can be prepared using a variety of different ingredients. The chief ingredients for this delicious little snack are some kind of fragrant jelly, rose water, dried nuts, desiccated fruits, and coconut.
When traveling outside Turkey, it is still possible to encounter them in some of the gourmet sweet shops of the world, but to be sure of getting true Turkish delights, you simply have to get them from within the borders of Turkey itself.
While it would be difficult to persuade any Turkish citizen to part with the little taste treats, they are sometimes given as gifts to loved ones and can be packaged and sent to nearby relatives and friends. A word of advice about sending them outside your home, however – it is best to sprinkle a tiny amount of cornflour mixture onto your Turkish delights before packaging them, so they don’t stick together. Most Turks avoid this potential hazard by simply keeping all the Turkish delights to themselves.
History of Turkish Delights
Way back in Ottoman Empire times, Turkish Delights were already being made to satisfy the sweet tooth of the citizenry by using raw honey or pekmez, which is a kind of concentrated mixture of wheat flour and grape syrup. One of the most well-known confectioners of those Ottoman times was a man name Haci Bekir, and he achieved his fame by cleverly using cornstarch and white sugar in various confections of his own production.
When his achievements became known to the Royal Sultan, he was summoned to Topkapi Palace, where he was put to work developing what eventually became Turkish Delights. From those days until the present, the appeal of Turkish Delights has not diminished, and in fact has spread throughout the country, and far beyond the country’s borders into most of Europe.
Another version of Turkish delights was created in the palace of the sultans which made use of mastic gum called sakiz, which owed its popularity to the fact that it made a much chewier version of Turkish Delight. It could also be rolled up into a portable snack for convenience.
While the recipe below is a base recipe which can be used for producing plain Turkish Delights, you may want to experiment a bit and include any one of several kinds of chopped nuts which appeal to you. The kind of nuts which work best with Turkish Delights are walnuts, pistachios, and hazelnuts, but feel free to invent your own version and rename it to whatever kind of Delight you prefer.
Ingredients needed for Turkish Delights
- 2 tablespoons of rose water
- 1 ounce of sugar-based icing
- juice squeezed from a single lemon
- 3-1/2 ounces of corn flour
- food coloring which is either pink or red
- 3 tablespoons of powdered gelatin
- 1-1/2 pounds of caster sugar
- Optional desiccated fruits
- Optional desiccated coconut
Notes on the Ingredients
The gelatin which is used in the recipe should be allowed to sit overnight, and if possible two nights would be even better. If you prefer to use a gelatin which is vegetarian, there is one called Vege-Gel, which seems to work pretty well in this particular recipe. When you purchase Vege-Gel, be sure to read the instructions on the package label, because a slightly different procedure is called for, and that may affect the rest of your preparations for Turkish delights.
It is also optional for you to include edible gold glitter, which some people like to do for visual appeal, although it does not significantly impact the flavor of the treats. Lastly, coconut and small pieces of dried fruit can add a great flavor, if you choose to include them in your Turkish Delights.
Cooking Instructions for Turkish Delights
First, you need to line an 8 in. baking pan with some kind of cling film, so the Turkish Delights can be lifted out easily. Then you need to sift the icing sugar and 1 ounce of cornflour into a bowl and mix together until smooth. A little of this mixture can be sprinkled over the base and spread on the sides of the cling film, and then the rest of the mixture can be set aside.
Then you will need to put the lemon juice, caster sugar, and 14 fluid ounces of water into a large pan, and heat it over low heat until the mixture is entirely dissolved. Make sure it does not get warm enough to boil. In another small bowl, take the remaining cornflour with 3 1/2 fluid ounces of cold water, and mix it together with the sugar syrup.
Then sprinkle the gelatin over the liquid and whisk it so that all lumps are dissolved. Bring this mixture to a boil and allow it to simmer for approximately 20 minutes at medium heat, while occasionally stirring. During the course of the 20 minutes, this mixture should turn a pale yellow color and should thicken noticeably.
Remove the mixture from the heat and add in the food coloring, so that the entire mix becomes pink in color. Allow the mixture to sit for about five minutes, and after that time, you can add in the rose water and pour it into the tin. This should be allowed to sit in a very cool environment overnight.
On the next day, dust your cooking board with some corn flour, and then invert the Turkish Delight pan and allow it to fall out onto the cooking board. Peel off the cling film and cut the mixture into cubes, rolling each one gently in cornflour so it has a light coating. If you opted to use the edible gold glitter, that can be sprinkled over the top of all the cubes now. Store your Turkish Delight cubes in an airtight container, someplace which is slightly below room temperature, and it should last for as much as a full month.