Monday, 30 November 2009

Perseverence and Turkish Delight

The other day I fell to thinking about things like fate and about making your own luck. So often in life, (sorry, I'm feeling a bit philosophical), I find that when I struggle and struggle and push and push for things, all I meet is resistance and when I just sit back and think 'Heigh ho, can't be helped', good stuff eventually happens by itself.

But to be honest, this is a bit frustrating for an impatient girl like me. When I make an effort, I like to see some kind of result. Which is why, I think, I've become so attached to cookery. Cooking is an area of my life where perseverence really does pay off - and fast.

If something goes wrong the first time you make it, you remember what you did wrong and do it better next time. And it works, and you are rewarded with something: a great pie, a delicious biscuit, happy supper guests.
Which leads me to Turkish delight. I just love it - the rose-flavoured ones in particular, and if they've got chopped up bits of pistachio in them, so much the better. Creamy and sweet, bursting with perfumey flavour - it was enough to get Edmund to grass up his whole family to the White Witch of Narnia and it's enough to give me a sugar high and put me in a good mood.
I wanted to make Turkish delight rather than buy some from a shop (and when I say shop, I mean Selfridges food hall) because I feel like less of a crazed sugar junkie if I make it myself - the element of home economics and creative endeavour cancels out, for me, the tooth-rotting, fat-ladling overtones.

So I made some yesterday, leaving it to set overnight and cutting it up into cubes and dousing it with icing sugar just now.

Has it worked? Yes and no. The taste is lovely, sweet and rosy, and the colour is charming, a blushing pink. But the texture? I might have to work on that. It's a touch chewy, and not quite creamy enough. I've got a feeling that I used a bit too much gelatine and I improvised with leaf gelatine rather than the powdered gelatine as directed; it's also possible that I stirred it a bit too much while it was all cooking.

Anyway, I will be try, try, trying again. But if you'd like to have a crack at the recipe I used, it's very simple and fun and you get little pink squares that are plump and delicious, if the tiniest bit of a mouthful...

25g powdered gelatine (here I impatiently used leaf gelatine, but you might get a better result if you use the powdered as specified - I will be trying again with the powdered stuff).

255ml water

4 tsp rose water (you can also add a drop of rose essential oil for extra floweriness)

450g caster sugar

3/4 drops red food colouring (although I only used 1.5)

icing sugar to coat

Before you start, oil a loose-bottomed tin in which the turkish delight can set. Oil the bottom and all the way up the sides of the tin with a flavourless oil like groundnut, or almond oil if you've got it.

1 Mix the gelatine, water and rose water in a pan and add the sugar

2 Heat very gently until it has all dissolved, stirring all the time

3 Bring to the boil without stirring

4 Reduce the heat and simmer for 20-25 mins. Here the mixture in the pan behaves quite strangely - rearing up and bubbling like it's alive and angry if you so much as touch it while it's cooking. I think I prodded it about a bit much at this stage...

5 Remove from the heat and add the food colouring

6 Leave to cool for 2-3 minutes and then pour the mixture into the tin and leave for 24 hours to set

7 Cut into squares and toss in the icing sugar


  1. I know this is, like, years old, but I want to try the recipe (I am obsessed with TD) but rather than jumping happily in I have just spent forty-five minutes reading a million webpages entitled 'How to use gelatin' that do no such thing. I only have leaf gelatin - couldn't find any powdered stuff nearby. How much did you use as an equivalent for 25g of powdered? Somehow I have arrived at 8 sheets of platinum grade but I'm worried this is too much and I don't want to make dog-chews.

  2. Oh god, I can absolutely never work out what leaf gelatin is the equivalent of - I'm really sorry. But what I ought to say is that my turkish delight didn't work AT ALL. I really ought to amend the post to admit this. I wrote this back in the days when I thought I ought to be positive about everything.

    By all means have a go because it's quite fun to do and one always wants to see for onesself what something is like, but I've never tried to make this again, and have always purchased it from a shop, with some relief.


  3. Thanks Esther. I thought what the hell, last night, and just made it anyway. I used 8 sheets but managed to slightly burn/caramelise the sugar (I don't think I stirred it enough to make sure it was all dissolved, for fear of Ghostbusters 2 pink slime coming alive in my face and dragging my down the sewers type disaster) so I had to sieve it and I believe that removed at least 1-2 sheets from the mix (I ended up with a brown jelly in my sieve that looked most unpleasant). Anyway, it's now set and so on, and is edible but a bit too wobbly, so I'm hoping it will firm up over the next few days. I used orange blossom water because it looked exactly like the rosewater bottle and I bought it by accident. This is all much more than you want/need to know (but for anyone reading who is tempted and only has leaf gelatine too, I think 8 sheets is possibly about right). Thank you for your quick honest response, and for the blog, which is hilarious and great.