What is Turkish delight?
Turkish delight or lokum is a Turkish delicacy that is based on a mixture of starch and sugar that is colored with food coloring.
Lokum varieties include pistachios, chopped dates, hazelnuts or walnuts. They can be flavored with rosewater, orange blossom water, or lemon. Turkish delights are presented in small cubes that are dusted with confectioners sugar (or cream of tartar) to prevent them from sticking to each other.
What is the origin of Turkish delight?
The origin of Turkish delights is quite controversial. While some date it back to a drug created by the Babylonians 2000 years before our era, others believe that it is an adaptation of a Persian gum. It appears that we owe the current version of rahat lokums (delight to the palate) to a Turkish candy confectioner named Haci Bekir who left his province to become an apprentice at a confectioner in Istanbul.
In 1777, he started his own business and created Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir confectionery for which he developed the Turkish delight recipe as we know them today. The success of this rahat lokum recipe was huge and his business has thrived for centuries. His Turkish candy has grown significantly and is today run by the fifth generation of his descendants.
Welcome to a festival of colors and flavors with this Turkish delight recipe.
- 3 cups sugar
- 1¼ cup cornstarch
- 2¼ cups water , divided
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¾ cup pistachios
- ¾ cup hazelnuts
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
- 1 tablespoon rose water
- Liquid food coloring
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup icing sugar
- Square cake mold (6 inches / 15 cm)
Before embarking on the preparation of the dough itself, line two 6-inch (15 cm) square molds or boxes with parchment paper (or wax paper). In order for the paper to adhere better to the sides, brush lightly with oil. Spread cornstarch at the bottom of each mold or box lined with parchment paper.
- Dry roast the pistachios for a few minutes in a hot pan. Put aside and then repeat the process for the hazelnuts.
Bring 1 cup (250 ml) of water to a boil, add the sugar and lemon juice. Then reduce heat to medium while maintaining a constant boiling. A foam should form. Continue cooking until the sugar mixture reduces and thickens but before it changes to a caramel color.
Check that the sugar syrup is ready by scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula. The syrup should not cover the bottom of the pan back too quickly as it should not be too liquid.
In a bowl, mix the corn starch with 1¼ cup (300 ml) of cold water and stir well to completely dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Then add this mixture to the syrup prepared above. Reduce heat to low and stir constantly. The mixture will slowly thicken and become more difficult to mix.
- The preparation is ready when it is completely detached from the bottom of the pan. It can take between an hour and an hour and a half. Divide dough into two equal parts.
- In the first, add a tablespoon of orange blossom water, the roasted pistachios and desired coloring and stir well.
- In the second, add a tablespoon of rosewater, roasted hazelnuts and desired coloring and mix well.
- Divide each dough into the previously prepared molds or boxes and smooth the surface as much as possible.
- Cover with aluminum foil (without it being in contact with the dough) and allow to dry for 24 hours.
- Turn the dough over and cut into squares with a large smooth knife. To facilitate cutting, coat the knife with oil with a brush before each slicing.
In a deep dish, combine the cups of icing sugar and cornstarch and mix well. Roll each cut square in this mixture once, then again. You can also put the sugar and cornstarch mixture in a freezer bag and add the squares of Turkish delights in small quantities and mix well to coat completely.
Turkish delights will stay perfectly fresh for several weeks at room temperature in a metal box.