Ever notice how certain movies (even non-foodie movies) are incredibly good at making you crave certain things? (Which, incidentally, definitely has to be some kind of evil conspiracy.) It even starts with movies for the little ones; as a kid I couldn’t watch Snow White without wanting an apple (and yes, I understood that the apple in the movie was poisoned, lol!) and Lady and the Tramp has always incited a craving for spaghetti. And thanks to Edmund and the wickedly alluring White Witch, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will always mean Turkish delight.
While chocolate is usually my guilty pleasure of choice, I also love a good fruity confection, like pâte de fruit and on the other side of the spectrum, things like gummy worms (but for some strange reason I enjoy gummy worms so much better than gummy bears). And I can never turn down Turkish delight.
I’ve had the full range of Turkish delight in my day – some run-of-the-mill, some terrible, and some that make you sit back, close your eyes, and relish every morsel. Making them at home was something I’ve wanted to do for over a year now (no doubt, I have my blog to blame for that ;) ), and I was always on the hunt for what looked like the right recipe.
Here's the inside...lovely caramel-colored and perfectly chewy.
A couple months ago, my chance came. I had been experimenting for my cookbook (by the way, more info on that coming soon!) with a recipe that called for a ton of peeled apples. Now, I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s my one quirk (lol, I wish it were my one and only quirk, right? ;) )…I really hate wasting food, even compost-like food, such as grapefruit peels (hello, Candied Grapefruit Peel!) and banana peels (I’ve been dying to make Lorraine’s gorgeous Banana Skin Cake for forever!). Not to mention, I think it’s a fun challenge to try to find new uses for things that might not seem to have any further use.
Ok, so, the recipe I was experimenting with called for a lot of peeled apples and in the end I was left with a lot of peels. I had the idea to boil them with water, making an apple-infused liquid (sort of like apple juice or cider, but a bit subtler and much less sweet). I don’t know how I came up with the idea to use that apple liquid to make apple-flavored Turkish delight, but somehow the idea struck me and I made it my mission to find a good workable Turkish delight recipe, stat.
About.com came to the rescue with a recipe that looked like it would work very well with a few slight alterations (reading the recipe reviews on sites like that are such a help!). As far as I know, apple isn’t a very common flavoring for classic Turkish delight, but I happen to love Liberty Orchards’ Aplets, which are a fruity apple-walnut flavored candy that’s similar to Turkish delight, so I thought apple-flavored Turkish delights would be tasty. I also added rosewater, which is a much more common flavoring for Turkish delight, because (like I talked about in my post for Baked Apples), apples are closely related to roses…so it’s only natural that their flavors would go well together, right? Right. :)
Fair Warning: This recipe is by no means hard to make; but as with any candy recipe, I recommend reading the whole recipe and having your ingredients measured and at the ready before you start. The warning comes into play when you realize how long it takes to make – when you’re cooking the candy you’ll need about an hour (after you make the apple liquid) to dedicate to stirring while it cooks, and it needs to be stirred frequently so you can’t walk out of the room for very long. The other time issue is letting the candy dry out (and trust me, if it doesn’t dry out properly you’ll end up with a wrecked batch of Turkish delight…it will weep all over the place). If it isn’t too hot/humid out, the timeframes listed below should work (6 days total drying time), but if it’s a bit more hot and/or humid, you’ll need more time.
A Note on the Apple Liquid: You could use apple juice or cider instead of steeping apple peels in water if you prefer; your end result will be more intensely apple flavored but also a bit sweeter (I haven’t experimented with this, but I don’t recommend cutting back on the sugar, even if you use juice or cider…like jams and jellies, this type of candy needs a certain amount of sugar to set).
A Note on the Walnuts: I used just a bit of walnuts (¼ cup) in this recipe; you can increase it to up to 1 cup if you prefer, or even omit them if you want. Or use any nut you like instead.
Apple-Walnut Turkish Delight (Adapted from a recipe for Turkish Delight on About.com)
Yields 45 pieces
4 cups of apple peels/cores
1 teaspoon canola oil
4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ¼ cups cornstarch, divided
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 ½ teaspoons rose water
¼ cup chopped walnuts (or any nuts you like)
¾ cup powdered sugar
1. Add the apple peels/cores to a medium saucepan along with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn heat down to medium-low and boil (uncovered) 45 minutes. Turn off heat, cover the saucepan, and steep 30 minutes. Strain the apple water through a cheesecloth-lined sieve, wringing the cheesecloth to squeeze out all the liquid. Pour the liquid into a large measuring cup; you should have about 4 ¼ cups; if you don’t, add enough water so that you do.
2. Line a 9 by 9-inch casserole dish with parchment paper and brush the canola oil onto the paper.
3. Combine the sugar, lemon juice, and 1 ½ cups of the apple liquid in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil (giving the pan an occasional stir to help the sugar dissolve), then turn heat down and simmer until it reaches 2400F on a candy thermometer.
4. When the sugar mixture is around 2250F, start heating the cornstarch mixture. Whisk together the cornstarch, cream of tartar, and remaining 2 ¾ cups of the apple liquid in a 5-quart pot. Once the mixture is fully whisked (and there are no lumps), turn heat on medium and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Turn heat off once the mixture turns thick and gluey.
5. Once the sugar mixture reaches 2400F, whisk it into the cornstarch mixture. Turn heat on medium and bring to a full boil, whisking constantly. Turn heat down to low and simmer 55 to 60 minutes, whisking every 5 to 8 minutes (when it’s done, the mixture will be a deep caramel color and become very difficult to whisk).
6. Whisk in the rose water and walnuts; pour into the prepared dish and spread evenly with an oiled spatula. Let the candy sit for 2 days or more (uncovered) at cool room temperature (do not put it in the fridge!). (The top should feel smooth and dry – not sticky at all; if it is still sticky, let it sit a bit longer – a couple days or so – until it doesn’t feel sticky.)
7. Remove the slab of candy from the dish, flip it over onto a piece of parchment paper so the bottom side is facing up, and let it sit for 2 days or more (uncovered) at room temperature, or until it feels smooth and dry (not sticky).
8. Use an oiled knife to cut the candy into 45 bite-sized pieces by making 8 cuts in one direction and 4 cuts in the other direction (I recommend cleaning and re-oiling the knife after every cut). Again, let the candy sit for 2 days or more (uncovered) at room temperature.
9. Combine the powdered sugar and the remaining ¼ cup cornstarch in a medium bowl. Toss the candy in this mixture, and then serve. (Alternatively, once coated in the sugar mixture, the candy can be stored in an airtight container between layers of parchment paper for up to 3 or 4 weeks.)