Turkish Delight

Ever since I’ve came back from Turkey I’ve been wanting to make Turkish Delight and Baklava. Since I had been scorning both for the longest time, predictably, it took Istanbul to take me down a peg or two and teach me otherwise.

From the double roasted pistachio turkish delight to the unique clotted cream oozing baklavas, the juicy moist kebabs to the generously filled smokey meaty rolls, the lavish delicious breakfasts to the pungent salty mouth watering pickle juice; every single thing we ate in Istanbul was an experience. Each meal was a revelation and each dish an education in taste, texture and technique. The best part is that to eat well, we learnt that you don’t need to spend too much at all. (Lucky enough to be travelling to Turkey? Here are my top five budget eating experiences in Istanbul along with a few tips)

But of course, I wasn’t happy with just eating the stuff, I need to learn to make everything that excites me just so I can make it for myself when the craving strikes again! So after examining the anatomy of seriously good Baklava at Karakoy Guluoglu and Sakariya Tatlicisi and scouring the web for recipes that looked right, I did manage a fairly decent Baklava from scratch though it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. (Which is why I’ve decided it needs more work before I share the recipe with you guys). Meanwhile, given that I wasn’t unto rolling 48 layers of yufka this week, I decided it was time to give the other one a shot. Turkish delight.

So I looked up a bunch of recipes and finally came up with my own after edits to many. The good news is that it worked! This is a super easy recipe if you have a sugar thermometer handy. There is a bit of hard work involved with all the stirring but if you have an electric beater plugged in, that would be a breeze too. Don’t tell that to the blister on my right hand, but effort or not, this is a recipe worth having in your repertoire for the sheer malleability it offers as a canvas for flavours you can play with.

Best eaten the day they are made, be prepared to gift these away or you will end up eating way too many yourself like I, unfortunately for my thighs, did. And do play with flavours. The base recipe works so you could dress this up a whole bunch of ways – I’m thinking I will do a coffee and hazelnut next time or maybe a lime and coconut. Priti says we could easily make little packages and sell them. But if you do start doing that, promise you will send me some for free.

Turkish Delight

Serves: A truckload

Hazelnut Lime And Rose Turkish Baklava To be honest, everyone but me seems to be intrigued by this combination but I feel that the hazelnut would have been better suited to vanilla or coffee rather than lime and rosewater. It maybe safer to leave the lime in there to avoid crystallisation but I would probably swap the rosewater here for vanilla. Oh and this recipe make a LOT. I'm thinking halving the quantity should work too.
  • 800 g (4 cups) sugar
  • 120 g (1 cup) cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 1 tbsp lime/lemon juice
  • .5tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tsp rosewater
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1.5 cups roasted hazelnuts/pistachios
  • Few drops of food colouring
  • 70 g (1/2 cup) icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
  • 35 g (1 oz, ¼ cup) cornflour (cornstarch)
  • Extra icing sugar
  1. Place 375 ml (12½ fl oz, 1½ cups) water in a deep pan. Add in the lemon juice, .5t cream of tartar and sugar. Bring to the boil while stirring on medium heat.
  2. Once the mixture comes to the boil keep stirring until the temperature reaches 126°C (260°F) on a candy thermometer. This is also known as the hard-ball stage. (You can also test this by dropping a bit of the syrup in a cup of ice-cold water and check that instead of dissolving, it stays together. You should be able to pinch it together to form a ball that holds its shape when you remove it from water. The ball will be hard, but you can still change it's shape by squashing it.)
  3. Switch off the heat. In a separate pan, add 500 ml (17 fl oz, 2 cups) of water. Add in the cream of tartar and the cornflour. Whisk to remove lumps. Continue whisking while you bring the cornflour water to the boil. Once it thickens and comes to a boil, keep stirring for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add a small amount of the the sugar syrup to the gluey paste and whisk to incorporate. Continue adding the syrup a bit at a time, whisking between each addition till all the sugar syrup has been added.
  5. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Turn the heat down to low and allow to simmer for about forty minutes while you keep stirring frequently. The mixture should be amber colour, smooth and transparent by the time you are done.
  6. Add in the rosewater and a few drops of food colouring along with the nuts. Mix well.
  7. Take a 20cmx20cm (8″x8″) baking tin, line with cling wrap. Oil lightly, and pour in the Turkish Delight. Brush very lightly with more oil and cover the surface with another cling film. Leave overnight to cool and set completely.
  8. Dust the Turkish Delight with icing sugar and turn it out onto a surface dusted liberally with icing sugar. Remove the cling wrap.
  9. Cut the slab of Turkish Delight into squares using a pizza cutter or a lightly-oiled knife.
  10. Sift the icing sugar and cornflour into a large bowl and add the squares of Turkish Delight. Toss to coat the pieces well.
Storage: Homemade turkish delight is best eaten the very same day. But you could store the Turkish Delight in a loosely covered box but do make sure you do not store this in the fridge or it will become all moist and gooey though the taste will not suffer.
Sift the icing sugar and cornflour into a large bowl and add the squares of Turkish Delight. Toss to coat the pieces well.


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