18. Disastrous Turkish Delight (No Delight in Sight)

Marguerite Patten's Recipe...

This was an unmitigated disaster. I won’t attempt to make excuses for this one at all. It was dreadful!! The recipe supplied by Marguerite Patten (who has never failed me before!) asked for powdered gelatin which I didn’t have so I substituted for leaf gelatine. Not entirely sure if this is a reasonable substitution and I had to guess the number of leaves required too… I think the sheer amount of guess work and hoping for the best resulted in terrible Turkish Delight, I take all the blame.

Having visited Turkey many many times, it’s one of my favourite places. So hot and so beautiful! I always enjoy sampling the local delicacies, rose and mint flavoured Turkish Delight are my favourites along with the apple tea of course! I wish I could make it properly at home.


Pancakes anyone?

The recipe asked for the

sugar and water to be melted together

Then to add the gelatin…

Bring the syrup to the boil (no problem)

Then to let it simmer until it reached the soft ball stage. This is when you drop some of the mixture into cold water it forms a soft ball. If only I had a sugar thermometer it would take all of the guess work (fun) out of the experiment…

Soft ball stage?

The recipe called for Tartaric Acid. This is something I’ve never heard of, nor seen in any shops, ever. Rummaging in my cupboards I discovered Cream of Tartar. Surely this is the same thing, right? NO, It’s really really not. As soon as I added it to the syrup it shrank back dramatically into the pan, losing its white frothiness.

At this stage according to Marguerite it should be a lovely Turkish Delight consistency so you can add rose essence and pink food colouring…

Or how about a solid block of sugar? *curses*

I succeeded in making a solid block of pink sugar instead of lovely chewy transparent Turkish Delight. I refused to let this beat me, so tried to melt the block down again by adding more water. Now if I was trying to make Kendal Mint Cake, this would be perfect…

Solid Pink Sugar instead rather more like Kendal Mint Cake than Turkish Delight

Undeterred I found a different recipe for Lokum (Turkish Delight) that uses Cornflour rather than gelatin that I thought might be more traditional and easier to make. How easily deluded I am!

The alternative ingredients

A paste made from cornflour sugar and cream of tartar (looks delicious?)

Add the rose essence and food colouring once at the soft ball stage

Then supposedly once it’s reduced enough it should magically transform into Turkish Delight…

Pink rose jelly. No Delight in sight

I simply can’t figure it out! Is it me? Should I give up guessing and follow recipes properly? Should I buy a thermometer? Maybe I should give this one last try…

14 responses

  1. I have a recipe from Rachel Allen “Home Cooking” which uses powdered gelatine, cornflour and cream of tartar (amongst other things). The recipie is quite long winded – with a couple of different stages to the ones you mentioned trying.

    sugar termometer a must for all kinds of reasons I think mine was only a couple of quids.

    Good luck :0)

  2. I admire your perseverance. I’ve never made turkish delight so can’t help you there. I did however invest in a thermometer which I have found useful. Hope you find a recipe that works!

  3. I take a firm stance on all things candy of “people spent hundreds of years making candy without thermometers, and I can too!” Even more so since candy thermometer are notoriously hard to get a good read from.
    Caramel and toffee are very easy to do sans thermometer because it is all about color. My marshmallow adventures were slightly rockier. So concerned about overcooking the sugar, first time I definitely undercooked it.
    Something that helped for me was to just sacrifice some sugar and water (for science!) and just keep cooking, dropping dollops into glasses the whole way, and paying attention to how the bubbles look, until I had a much clearer idea of what the different stages were. My guess is the second time round, you under cooked your sugar.
    This is a pretty good video that shows you the stages and what the sugar looks like boiling at soft ball stage: http://www.epicurious.com/video/technique-videos/technique-videos-sugar/1915458786/sugar-reaching-sugars-softball-stage/1915433371

    • Thanks so much for your comment. I totally agree. I went to a local museum where they have a traditional sweet shop and watched them make cinder toffee and boiled sweets using the traditional methods. It was spectacular watching the cinder toffee expanding and frothing! I figured that it’s got to be do-able without a thermometer, if a little dangerous in my hands. (I managed to scald my face last night with a pan of boiling water whilst making jam…) I’m hoping with a bit more practice I will perfect my technique! I’ve managed to make Italian meringue without a thermometer and some caramel. I think you’re right if I had kept the second batch on the hob for a little bit longer it might have set a bit better, but I panicked as it looked like it was welding to the bottom of the pan, so quickly scooped it out.

      I’m definitely going to keep experimenting!

      • The best part about dealing with sugar is that is is water soluble. As long as things aren’t burnt-black, 15 minutes of soaking in warm water will get the goo out nicely.
        Trying to scrub it out without soaking is another matter entirely. . .

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  5. I’m guessing that you stirred your sugar in the first instance. This will cause it to crystallise. Creme of tartare will prevent crystals forming as it cools, but won’t help if it is already forming crystals.

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