“It is dull, Son of Adam, to drink without eating,” said the Queen presently. “What would you like best to eat?”
“Turkish Delight, please, your Majesty,” said Edmund.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis, Chapter Four
Eagle-eyed readers will note that I have used this quote before. I stand by the pavlova in the original recipe (it's just delicious), but for those in search of something a little more traditional - or literal - I thought you might quite like a recipe for Turkish Delight itself. I've made a good few batches in the past weeks, and have worked hard to get the texture right. No recipe I read gave a good description of what the mixture should look like when it's ready to come off the heat - so I had a couple of 'failed' attempts (I did manage to rectify one, which you can see in the photograph). I've tried to describe the textures as best I can below, and I'd love to hear from you if you do give the recipe a go!
On a trip to Istanbul earlier this year, I encountered an infinite number of variations on Turkish Delight. Pistachio and pomegranate were both delicious, but it's sweet, squidy, pink cubes I see Edmund greedily eating from a silver box - and so I've gone for a classic rose-scented one here.
Makes around 30 squares
450g granulated sugar
1tbsp lemon juice
1/2tsp cream of tartar
Pink food colouring - ideally paste
40g icing sugar
Edible glitter (optional)
Small saucepan (ideally with deep sides)
Medium heavy-bottomed saucepan (again, with deep sides)
Rubber spatula (flexible)
Square baking tin (around 20cm long and 10cm wide - I created a barrier in my 20cm square one with a cardboard box)
1. Place the sugar and lemon juice in the small saucepan with 170ml water. Put the pan over a low-medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Once the liquid is clear, stop stirring and heat until the sugar syrup reaches 118C, which should take around 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, line the baking tray with cling film - don't worry too much about creases at the corners, but try to smooth the base and sides as much as possible. Place 90g cornflour in the medium saucepan, along with the cream of tartar and 285ml water. Place over a low heat and stir continuously. The mixture will thicken (it will end up happening all of a sudden) and you need to keep cooking it until it resembles hair sculpting paste - thick and gloopy. If the sugar syrup isn't quite ready by this stage, take the cornflour mix off the heat.
3. Once the sugar syrup has reached 118C, put the cornflour mixture back over a low heat. While stirring, slowly pour the syrup in. Continue to stir over a low heat for around an hour. The mixture will look strange (and separated) at first, but will come together. Use a spatula to keep the mixture moving, constantly scraping it away from the sides, and don't leave the saucepan alone - it will stick to the bottom and burn if you do.
4. You need to keep the mixture on the heat until it is really thick - it should be very difficult to stir. To me, it resembled very thick craft glue once it was cooked enough to set. It should also be turning from a clear-white liquid to one that has a golden tinge. Once it reaches this point, take it off the heat and beat in the rosewater. Poke the tip of the wooden skewer into the pink colouring paste, and then draw it through the mixture. Beat the colour through - you should end up with a delicate pink. Add the colouring sparsely - it's much easier to add more than it is to take it out.
5. Scoop the Turkish Delight into the lined tin - it will be messy to get it all out of the saucepan. Smooth the top of the mixture by wetting the spatula a little and pusing the top down (if you don't wet the spatula, you'll just end up moving the mixture around). Put a tea towel over the Turkish Delight and allow it to set overnight at a cool room temperature.
6. The next day, take the Turkish Delight out of the tin and peel the cling film off it. Wet your knife with hot water and slice into squares. Sieve the cornflour and icing sugar into the shallow bowl (along with the edible glitter if you're using it). Drop the squares into the bowl and toss to coat each piece. Shake each piece off before placing it in a storage box. Keep in a cool, dry place, with greaseproof paper between the layers.