I’ve made it to round 2! Thanks to everyone who voted for me. I am so excited to participate in this next challenge, which asks us to go outside our comfort zone and tackle a classic dish from another culture.
My husband and I enjoyed a day in Istanbul, Turkey a few weeks ago as part of our Mediterranean cruise. It was a great day, the city was so different from any other that I’ve ever visited. Minarets dotted the landscape and the call to prayer rang out over the city a few times. We even went to a restaurant where we enjoyed a traditional Turkish meal while sitting on cushions on the floor.
At the end of the day, we stopped off at a candy shop to spend the rest of our Turkish Lira. The candy shop was mostly filled with Turkish Delight, a traditional jelly candy, in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. I didn’t have a clue where to start, so I handed the shop keeper my money and told him to pick out an assortment of his favorites. We ended up with a paper bag full of Turkish Delight that I couldn’t wait to sample.
Every piece I tried became my favorite. Just when I thought I found the best one, another would blow me away. Some had a cream filling, and others were covered in nuts. There were flavors that I recognized like lemon and rosewater, but then there were others that I couldn’t quite identify, but were delicious nonetheless.
When I heard about this next Project Food Blog Challenge, I knew instantly what I would try. Candy making isn’t really something I’ve done a lot of and truthfully, it sort of scares me. But the Turkish Delight was so good! I wanted to be able to enjoy it at home.
I decided that for my first attempt I should make the most traditional flavor of Turkish Delight— rosewater. I followed the recipe, and after stirring a mixture of water, sugar, and cornstarch on the stove for an hour I had a pot of what I can only describe as very thick goo. I honestly had no idea what I was doing, I was in unfamiliar territory. Even the next day, after it had set overnight and had been cut and rolled in coconut, I still wasn’t sure if I had succeeded in making Turkish Delight or not. It sure looked beautiful, though, and the girl in me loved the pink color.
The jelly turned out a bit softer than what I had sampled in Istanbul, but ended up pretty close in flavor. I won’t say that my Turkish Delight compares at all to that of an experienced candy maker in Turkey, but I was very pleased with the results. My first real attempt at candy making was a success! And it proved to be a much easier process than I had previously thought, something I’m always happy to discover.
Now I can enjoy a little taste of Istanbul at home, and so can you.
Rosewater and Coconut Turkish Delight
Adapted from About Candy
Makes about 4 dozen pieces
4 cups sugar
4 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon rosewater
1 cup shredded coconut
Pink food coloring
Powdered sugar, as needed
Line a 9 x 9 inch pan with aluminum and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, 1 1/2 cups of water, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Use a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming on the saucepan. Once the mixture comes to a boil, insert a candy thermometer, and allow it to continue to boil, without stirring, until it reaches 240 degrees F.
While the mixture is boiling, combine the cornstarch, cream of tartar, and the remaining 3 cups of water in another larger saucepan. Stir with a whisk to remove any lumps. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. It will become very thick.
When the sugar mixture has reached 240 degrees, slowly pour into the cornstarch mixture, whisking continuously. Return to a boil and continue to cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally to prevent it from burning. The mixture will become very thick and turn a pale yellow color. After an hour, remove from heat and add the rosewater.
Pour the candy into the prepared pan and allow to set in a cool place (but not the refrigerator), uncovered, overnight.
Remove from the pan to a surface sprinkled with powdered sugar. Cut with a greased knife and roll in the shredded coconut. If the candy is particularly sticky, roll in more powered sugar.