"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Curse of Steve's Evil Kitchen

Illicit Confection #2: Turkish Delight

old boots, grease guns and metal rasps make candy all the sweeter!
It took several tries to make Turkish Delight, leaving me with buckets of sweaty glop (more than the standard amount for my kitchen) that would clog my drains or feed vermin. I almost gave up on this one, before having a brainstorm, which solves the whole weeping candy problem that ruins days of work.

A recipe that actually works:

1) Fondant. Combine 4 cups of granulated sugar, 1 1/2 cups water and 1 tsp. glycerin (available from cake decorating or homebrewing supply stores). Cook on high heat, stirring constantly, until boiling. Then stop stirring and boil to soft ball stage (240F). Remove from heat and pour into cool pan and let sit until 114-115F; the solution will take on a slight yellow tinge and form a sort of film on top. Stir until it sets hard; it will first turn creamy, then look light a white paste, before becoming rock hard. Take chunks of the fondant and knead by hand; pressure will return it to a soft consistency. Store overnight in a cool location (not refrigerator; an unheated cellar is ideal).

2) Starch solution. Combine 2 cups of cool water, 1 cup of corn starch and 1 tsp. of cream of tartar. Stir until starch dissolves. Heat on medium heat, stirring vigorously, until 180F; it will be a thick white paste at this point. Add fondant slowly, incorporating by stirring fondant in until it dissolves while continuing to heat. The solution will become slightly translucent, with a faint yellow tinge.

3) The brilliant bit. Pour the combined solution into a Pyrex container and microwave on high in one minute increments, stirring after each. The solution will become transparent, almost clear. The mixture is done when one hears bubbles of steam popping from the surface and the surface looks to be changing texture.

This is the critical step to avoid candy sweat later. Heating on the stovetop would take a very long time and risks scorching the starch. It is almost impossible to drive off enough moisture that way.

Add flavorings and pour into a greased 9x9 inch baking pan. Traditionally, one adds 2 tsp. rose water, 1/2 cup pistachio nuts and a drop or two of red food coloring.

Store in a cool place overnight.

4) The 3rd day! Using an oiled knife (or a pizza cutter treated with non-stick spray), cut into pieces. 8x6 rectangular pattern is about the right size. Dredge in powdered sugar.

If the pieces begin to sweat once they are coated in powdered sugar, dust off as much powdered sugar as possible, set on paper towels and blot, to remove as much water as possible, then microwave them again, turning the pieces occasionally, until the surface is not sticky to the touch when cool. then coat again in powdered sugar. They won't be as attractive-looking as commercially sold Turkish Delight, but they will still have a better texture.


Diana said...

Impressive. I just walk down the street to the Turkish baker/take-away. What made you think to put it in the mircowave? Glad it solved your problem. I would be afraid to alter a recipe that much for fear of messing it up. I guess you didn't have much to lose by this point, though, huh?

SteveQ said...

@Diana: My recipe looks almost nothing like any other for Turkish delight. I had to take dozens of recipes and compare them to find what was essential, then through trial and error find what didn't work. Two months and something like 30 pounds of sugar later, I got it right. The microwave came to me when I thought it had to be moisture content that was the problem and I didn't want browning; I had actually thought about capillarization, convective heating, osmotic pressure... a real engineering feat. That's what makes my kitchen evil!

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Too much trouble, therefore: Fuck trying to delight any Turk this way. Let them get their jollies their second favorite way: by oppressing Kurds.

Jean said...


I am totally impressed. This is both art meets science in the kitchen for sure. Incredible work, Steve!