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
- 4 cups (800 grams) granulated sugar
- 4 1/2 cups (2 liters) water
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cup (140 granulated) cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 tablespoon rosewater
- 1 cup (85 grams) sweetened 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.