33 New Things: Make Turkish Delight

Every year on my birthday, I make a list of new things I want to try.  Some are challenging, some are easy, some are shockingly mundane.  You can read about past adventures here.

As any Narnia lover can tell you, Turkish Delight is some (allegedly) delicious business.
  So delicious that Edmund of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe fame would sell his soul to The White Witch in exchange for a few cubes of the stuff.  I’ve only tried Turkish Delight once and it seemed to me to be nothing more than flower-flavored jello.  Surely I was missing something, right?  Because a literary character wouldn’t cross over to the dark side for flower-flavor jello, right?

I decided to try my hand at making it from scratch. 
Because everything is better from scratch!  And the recipe involved the challenges of corn starch and a candy thermometer and words like “gluey.”I enlisted the help of my friend Benjamin – cooker, baker, and food stylist extraordinaire. We scheduled out an afternoon to devote to this and Benjamin bought that all-important rose water.

But here’s the thing, guys.  When you’re catching up with a friend you haven’t seen for six months, you’re usually prone to drinking a lot of coffee and gossiping and discussing the merits of egg salad sandwiches.  Instead of, you know, watching that boiling sugar or compulsively stirring the gluey cornstarch stuff.

Sooooo, instead of Turkish Delight, we got burnt sugar, flower-flavored goo.
  It ended up looking like some sort of translucent fudge.

Lesson?  When you’re cooking something complicated do it by yourself or in the company of someone who’s not funny or interesting.

Have you ever had good Turkish Delight?  Is there really such a thing?

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  1. Kit

    When I was little and saw the BBC version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, I was obsessed with trying Turkish Delight. My parents bought me some one weekend at the supermarket and I was horrified- it was awful! Now I'm a bit older (refined tastes and all that) I quite enjoy it, particularly when my Turkish colleague brings the real stuff back from home. The one with pistachios in is magic!

  2. Nicole

    In Australia we have some beautiful Turkish Delight that comes in fat little pink squares covered in icing sugar that are sold pretty much every where (including the newsagent, weirdly) It's lovely! The best stuff is slightly chewy and gooey just like in Narnia. And tastes like the way a rose smells. We also have a crap version covered in chocolate that nobody likes.

  3. Anonymous

    I spent last January in Turkey, and I can report that Turkish Delight is actually is quite wonderful. It comes in a variety of flavors, my favorite was rose, with powdered sugar on top. There is a type that is covered in chocolate, but it is not authentic (or as good). If only I could find a place to buy some in Minnesota.
    Plus, in Turkey when you wallk through the markets to pick the type you want, you get to taste samples. Yum!

  4. Amber-Rose Thomas

    Flower tasting jello?! How American… sorry Sarah!

    I freakin love Turkish Delight!

  5. Ben and Brandy

    I have always been curious as well! I have nearly an entire bottle of rose water waiting to be used on something…
    Last summer my "raspberry jam" makings quickly turned into something akin to raspberry sludge when I turned away for a distracted moment.

  6. Amanda

    True story: there is an entire shop in Pike Place Market (Seattle native, holla!) called Turkish Delight. However, I have not sampled its namesake, because I was so completely bored by some Turkish Delight that someone included in a holiday gift basket long ago, that I have felt uninspired to eat it, even after reading the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Mayyyybe I'll have to give it another go and return with results?

  7. Anonymous

    There was a candy store in England (Southampton I think) that had a lovely Turkish Delight covered in chocolate… but it was good dark chocolate. The Turkish Delight was nice and dense with a strong rose flavor. I can't find that kind of quality here in the US. I still crave it so I'll probably have to make my own.

  8. Good Golly Miss

    Yes, to The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe being the source of Turkish Delight Fascination. Yes, to it being a bit of a disappointment the first time. Yes, to there actually being amazing Turkish Delight in the world. I can't believe I live in Seattle and have never heard of this Turkish Delight shop. I have to check it out. There is also a ginger Turkish Delight made by The Ginger People that you can find in some natural foods stores that is really good, as long as you like ginger.

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