Today, destination Turkey for the Turkish delight recipe! 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 I knew about this country at the time could be summarized to the movie Midnight Express and Turkish bathrooms. Exciting… and yes, you can say it: quite clueless!
It was during this first trip that I tasted real homemade lokum aka Turkish delight (or loukoumi in Greece) whose taste as well as texture were far from what is being sold in stores in France and I found myself loving these Turkish delights which I found way too sweet until then.
History of Turkish Delight (Lokum)
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!
- 2½ cups sugar
- 1¼ cup cornstarch
- 2¼ cups water , divided
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3½ oz. pistachios
- 3½ oz. hazelnuts
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
- 1 tablespoon rose water
- Liquid food coloring
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup icing sugar
Before embarking on the preparation of the dough itself, line two 6x6 inch (approx.) 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 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 (a light color is okay).
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 1¼ cup of corn starch with 1¼ cup 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, but it is important to keep going at it!
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, pour the small cups of powdered 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 (the ones I kept in an airtight plastic container got moistened)