Turkish delight or Lokum as it is also known is a sweet fragrant jelly confection traditionally flavoured with rosewater and heavily dusted with icing sugar and cornflour.
It is not difficult to make your own homemade Turkish delight but it does require a bit of patience as it requires long slow cooking with frequent stirring. Your efforts are rewarded with a delicious sweet treat.
Turkish delight is served alongside coffee or tea in Middle Eastern households try it as a tasty alternative to a biscuit or cookie. Growing up we always had a box of Turkish delight every Christmas, it was my mother's favourite treat alongside dates in a box with a plastic stem that doubled up as a prong to pick up the dates.
I must confess back then I wasn't a fan (which probably pleased my mum as it left more for her!) But as with many foods my tastes have changed over the years and I now love it, although I've never come to like the rose flavour. My favourite flavours are mint, lemon or vanilla with pistachio nuts.
Today I sometimes serve with coffee at the end of a special meal or just treat myself to a cube or two as a snack at any time. It also makes a fabulous foodie gift for friends.
I've chosen the classic rose flavour Turkish delight for this recipe but you can easily change the flavour to suit your own tastes. The possibilities are endless orange flower water or citrus flavours are also traditional as are oils flavoured with cinnamon or peppermint which are sometimes used as an alternative to rosewater.
You can also flavour with fruit extracts such as raspberry. Nuts can be added at the same stage you add the flavour as well as a suitable food colouring.
Suitable for Vegans
Unlike some jelly sweets Turkish delight is not usually made with gelatine, so it is suitable for vegetarians and vegans but it is worth noting that some commercial brands do use gelatine, so the best way to guarantee that it is suitable for vegans is to make your own.
Cooking the Turkish delight
It is made by combining sugar syrup with a cornflower mixture which is then cooked together very slowly until it forms a dense sticky Jelly.
When combining the sugar syrup with the cornflower mixture this should be added slowly to avoid any lumps. Add the syrup in small quantities and beat well until completely smooth. You can do this beating with a wooden spoon but you may find it easier to use a balloon whisk at this stage. Do not be tempted to rush this step.
Once combined the mixture is then boiled very gently until the mixture forms a very thick jelly and turns a golden amber colour. This will take at least an hour and here is where you will need to be patient.
You cannot just leave and forget about it as during this time you will have to stir frequently particularly towards the end and always taking care to make sure you get right into the corners of the pain. Many recipes suggest that it should be stirred continuously. While I have not found that strictly necessary I really do mean frequently every minute or two.
I find it best to use a wooden spoon at this stage as I find the balloon whisk does not get right into the corners and it is here that the mixture will tend to burn.
Once cooked the Turkish delight is then flavoured and a little food colouring can be added at this stage too. It is then poured into a tin and allowed to set for at least 6 hours or up to 24 before cutting into squares and dusting with an icing sugar and cornflour mixture to prevent them from sticking together.
How to store
Once cut into squares and dusted with the icing sugar mixture I find it is best to leave them out to dry for 24 hours before packing into a loosely covered container at cool room temperature. Airtight containers are not the best as Turkish delight tends to sweat. It will keep for up to a month.
More confectionary you might like to make
Homemade Turkish Delight (Lokum)
- 18cm square cake tin
- non stick baking parchment
- 2 large saucepans
- sugar thermometer
- a little vegetable oil for greasing
- 1 litre (1¾pts) water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 800 g (1lb 12oz) granulated sugar
- 125 g (4oz) cornflour
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1–2 tablespoon rose water
- few drops pink food colouring
- 50 g (2oz) icing sugar
- 15 g (½oz) cornflour
- Line a 18cm (7in) square pan with non stick baking parchment and oil the paper.
- Place 500ml (18floz) water, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 800h (1lb 12oz) sugar in a heavy based saucepan and bring gently to the boil, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Once all the sugar has dissolved increase the heat, cover the pan with a lid and allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute.
- Remove the lid. Continue to boil the syrup without stirring until the temperature reaches 115°C (139°F). Remove from the heat and set to one side.
- Place 125g (4oz) cornflour and 1 teaspoon cream of tartar in a large saucepan and gradually stir in 500ml (18floz) water a little at a time. Once the cornflour and water have been combined, cook gently stirring with a wooden spoon all the time until the mixture forms a very thick gluey paste.
- Remove from the heat and gradually beat in the sugar syrup a little at a time, beating well until smooth after each addition. Do not rush this step.
- Return to the heat and bring slowly to the boil, stirring well, then reduce the heat and simmer very very gently for about 1 hour, stirring frequently. Make sure you get into the corners of the pan so that the mixture doesn’t catch. The mixture will turn a golden amber colour when it is cooked sufficiently.
- Remove from the heat and stir in 1-2 tablespoon rose water and a few drops of pink food colour. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and allow to set for at least 6 hours.
- Sift 50g (2oz) icing sugar and 15g (½oz) cornflour together into a bowl. Then sift a little of sugar and cornflour mixture over the set Turkish delight.
- Turn out onto a sheet of baking parchmentand dust with more icing sugar mixture. Cut into squares using a lightly oiled knife.
- Drop the squares a few at a time into the remaining icing sugar mixture and toss to coat well.
- It is important not to rush adding the sugar syrup to the cornflour mixture as any lumps that you allow to form at this stage will be impossible to remove from the Turkish delight mixture.
- Very frequent stirring is essential during while cooking the Turkish Delight.
- Store in a covered container in a cool dry place for up to 1 month.
- Do not freeze.