Narnia Menu: “Turkish Delight” by Astrid Tuttle Winegar
Yes, Edmund, just keep eating that candy, yes… your cheeks are already turning red from all of that sugar… who needs teeth anyway?
If you’ll recall from my last post, I’m going to leave Middle-earth until next year. For now, we’ll finish up with three recipes from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Then we’ll be off to a distant galaxy. I’ll continue with the other Narnian chronicles in the future.
Well, after much trouble (and about 10 pounds of sugar), I have come up with a recipe for Turkish Delight. If you attempt this, please make a point of reading every word in the recipe and following the directions exactly. I have written a very helpful BLOGPOST with multiple photos (which I believe might make the Legendarium Media homepage crash, so I didn’t bother to post them all here!) of the process, as well as an honest account of my quest to develop my own recipe for this most unusual candy. In my photo below, I have coated my candies with shredded, dehydrated coconut. The pink color was achieved with merely two drops of red food coloring. So pick an afternoon when you have patience and nothing else going on—you’ll see that most of the instructions are quite easy after the initial preparation. And please note: start the recipe FOUR DAYS before you actually want to serve it.
1 ounce shelled, roasted, and salted pistachios
1 ounce walnut halves
1 ounce whole hazelnuts
2 cups sugar
½ cup plus 1 cup water
½ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon citric acid
1½ teaspoons orange extract (or other flavor) ***
1½ teaspoons cinnamon extract (or other flavor) ***
A few drops of food coloring, if desired
Various coatings, listed below
*** FOUR DAYS BEFORE SERVING ***
Chop the nuts coarsely. Combine in a small bowl and set aside. Coat a 9″ by 5″ loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside. Combine the sugar and ½ cup water in a 1-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Then keep the liquid at a STEADY, MODERATE BOIL on medium/low heat. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to brush the inside of the pot occasionally to prevent the sugar from crystallizing on the sides.
Insert a candy thermometer and cook without stirring until the temperature reaches 260-265° (hard ball stage). This will take awhile, perhaps 20-40 minutes, depending on various circumstances, but DO NOT IGNORE IT. DO NOT MULTI-TASK, EXCEPT TO DO THIS:
Set up a hand mixer with a whisk attachment; set aside. Place the 1 cup water, cornstarch, citric acid, extracts, and food coloring into a 3-quart saucepan. Combine all with a medium-sized whisk, then place on the stove without turning on the heat. When the sugar mixture reaches the 260° mark, turn heat to the lowest setting and remove the thermometer.
IMMEDIATELY: Turn heat on the cornstarch mixture to high. Cook on high, whisking constantly until fully mixed and starting to boil and thicken. It will become VERY thick.
IMMEDIATELY: Lower the heat a couple notches. Switch to the hand mixer and mix on low speed until the mixture becomes creamy. This might become a bit messy, so try to keep the mixing under control.
IMMEDIATELY: Slowly pour the hot syrup into the cornstarch mixture while mixing on low speed until fully integrated over medium heat. Turn off heat and mix in the nuts with the hand mixer on low speed. Pour into the prepared pan. Place on a rack until completely cool. Cover lightly with a lightweight towel or cloth napkin and let stand overnight.
*** THREE DAYS BEFORE SERVING ***
Sprinkle some powdered sugar on a cutting board. Flip the candy out onto the board. Cut into 45 pieces using a pizza slicer or other sharp knife. Line a medium baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on the pan. Place the candy pieces on the pan, ¼” apart, uncovered, so they can dry. Cover with the same cloth only overnight.
*** TWO DAYS BEFORE SERVING ***
Turn all the pieces over and let stand, uncovered, all day. Cover lightly overnight.
*** DAY OF SERVING ***
Choose your coating from the Various Coatings listed below and dip each candy.
Various Coatings: Choose one, or use half of two variations.
A. ½ cup powdered sugar sifted with ½ tablespoon cornstarch
B. ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder sifted with 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
C. ½ cup lightly toasted sesame seeds
D. ½ cup shredded, dehydrated coconut
E. 8 ounces melted semisweet chocolate (Cool a bit, then dip each candy and place on the same parchment sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, just until the chocolate sets.)
Dip each candy into your desired coating, covering on all sides. Set on a plate. Turkish Delight needs to breathe and stay dry. Keep finished candies covered loosely with a lightweight cloth napkin or towel at room temperature. Or wrap loosely in lightweight paper and place in a small box that is tied with a silk ribbon (the color is up to you). Do not keep the candy in airtight containers, because the sugar content will start to melt and you’ll end up with wet candy. Lasts about a month or so. Makes 45 pieces.
*** You may experiment with other flavors; rose water, vanilla, almond, and mint are traditional. You may also try using a no-sugar-added fruit juice for the 1 cup water; apple is a nice alternative.
Astrid Tuttle Winegar
Astrid Tuttle Winegar is the author of Cooking for Halflings & Monsters: 111 Comfy, Cozy Recipes for Fantasy-Loving Souls, which is currently available exclusively in e-book form on the Amazon Kindle, but will soon be released by Oloris Publishing! Stay tuned for details. For now, she is mostly telling a culinary Middle-earth story here on Legendarium. Astrid has loved C. S. Lewis since childhood, J. R. R. Tolkien since middle and high school, all Star things, both Trek and Wars, all things Whedon, and many other things besides… She lives in the enchanted city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband and dog. She blogs occasionally at http://halflingsandmonsters.wordpress.com. You can check out (and like!) her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/astridtuttlewinegar or visit her Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/astridwinegar.