Saturday, March 26, 2011

Weekend Cooking #7: Turkish Delight a/k/a Locum

Spring always makes me think about Turkish Delight. It is the time of the year when I used to make my annual trek down to a store on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to buy Easter and Passover treats from a store called Economy Candy.**

Turkish Delight in Istanbul
One year, I picked up a box of Turkish Delight because it is a confection I have always loved. When my Kiddo saw it on the kitchen counter, she looked at me in amazement and “Turkish Delight is a real thing. I thought it was just something C. S. Lewis made up in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” She was very disappointed in the taste, given what she had read in Chapter 4 – Turkish Delight

“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 Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very center and Edmond and never tasted anything more delicious. He was quite warm now and very comfortable.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, as you will recall, is the story of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, evacuated from London during the war and their subsequent discovery of and adventures in Narnia.  It is easy to understand why Edmund would request Turkish Delight.  Sugar was rationed and this calls for a lot of sugar.

Here are two recipes for Turkish Delight, in case your children are wondering about it like mine did, or in case you just happen to enjoy it like I do.

Turkish Delight
3 (25 ounce) envelopes unflavored gelatin
½ cup cold water
½ cup hot water
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tbsp)
½ tsp lemon extract
about ½ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

1- Pour the gelatin into cold water. Set aside.

2- In a medium saucepan, bring the hot water and granulated sugar to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low. Add the salt, and stir in the softened gelatin until completely dissolved. Simmer 20 minutes.

3- Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon extract.

4- Rinse a 6 inch square pan with cold water. The pan should be wet, but not have standing water. Pour the mixture in the pan. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

5- Sift some of the confectioners’ sugar onto a plate. Moisten a sharp knife in very hot water and run it around the edges of the pan to loosen the candy. Invert the pan over the plate. It may be necessary to work on the edges to loosen them enough to turn the candy out on top of the sugar. Cut the square into equal width stripes, about 1 inch wide. Coat each strip with confectioners’ sugar. Store covered at room temperature.

Yield: 3 dozen 1 inch cubes or 10 to 12 snack size serving.

This recipe may be found on page 104 of The Kids’ Book Club Book: reading, ideas, recipes, activities and smart tips for organizing terrific kids’ book clubs by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp.

The second recipe is, I think, a bit more simplified and more to my taste.

Turkish Delight
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 ½ cups water
2 cups sugar
3 tbsp white corn syrup
¾ cup cornstarch
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup coarsely chopped nut: pistachio, almonds or walnuts
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, more or less as needed, for coating
1- Sprinkle gelatin into ½ cup water, and set aside to soften for about 5 minutes.

2- Pour another ½ cup water into medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add sugar and corn syrup, and stir until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Continue cooking until mixture reaches 240°F on candy thermometer or until it form a soft ball when ½ tsp of mixture is dropped into a cup of cold water. Reduce heat to medium.

3- Dissolve cornstarch in remaining ½ cup water, and mix well. Add to sugar mixture, stirring constantly, simmer slowly until very thick, about 3 minutes; remove from heat. Add lemon juice and gelatin mixture, and stir until gelatin dissolves. Add nuts and stir thoroughly.

4- Line bottom and sides of 8 inch cake pan with foil. Sprinkle with think layer of confectioners’ sugar. Pour in candy and do not move for about 4 hours, until jelled, and refrigerate at least 4 more hours, or until firm.

5- Cut into 1 inch squares and roll each piece in confectioners’ sugar to coat all sides.
This recipe may be found on page 66 of Holidays of the World Cookbook for Students by Lois Sinaiko Webb.
Both of these books are excellent for getting young readers interested in cooking (with adult supervision, of course.) I have found this is a fun way to spend time with the kids in my family, all of whom can now cook, including my 8 year old niece who wants to be a chef.

**If you are ever visiting New York, Economy Candy is not to be missed. It is located at 108 Rivington Street, New York, NY 10002, or visit it at Economy Candy 
The Lower East Side is a not to be missed neighborhood in NYC.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. As always Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads


  1. I remember that I first heard of Turkish delight when I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in 4th grade in, well, let's just say it was in the last century. :)

    I've never thought of making it. Thanks for two versions.

  2. hopefully, in a couple of months I will be visiting Turkey..and I will see if they have Turkish Delight there

  3. I've heard of Turkish Delight, but never had it, it sounds good, I'd like the second one as well! Thanks for the link, my grandma used to shop Lower East Side, haven't seen some of those candies in years! Barton's Almond Kisses!

  4. I forgot that it was in the book. My dad used to purchase Turkish delight for us all the time.

  5. Isn't if funny the memories one thing can inspire.
    I really appreciate your comments.

  6. I think Turkish delight is something to be savored in small quantities, unless you really like the sweet stuff ;) We're lucky to have a lot of Middle-Eastern (and North-African) delicacies readily available in the larger cities in Holland, so I've never considered making it myself. The recipe looks quite easy though, may have to give it a try!

  7. I hadn't had Turkish Delight until a few years ago. It pops up once in awhile in librarian circles because of the literary connection. I was skeptical, but I really liked it. Best in small doses shared among many people.

  8. Would this be the same thing as Turkish toffee?? I love the book connection.

  9. I've never made Turkish Delight but it sounds delicious and I remember Edmund's face as he ate it! I'm interested in the Kid's book club book as well.

  10. I would definitely give Turkish Delight a try, but it may be an acquired taste. And I do agree, a little goes a long way.

    Nan - It isn't the same as Turkish Taffee, which reminds me I haven't had that since I was a kid.

    Peaceful Reader - the Kids' Book Club Book is a great book. Lots of fun stuff.