What a difference a year makes. Today the snow is coming down heavily, I made a blog-worthy treat, and my feet are warm. This time last year we were still living in our Airstream watching the snow with anxiety rather than wonder, the food was functional rather than pretty, and I was battling chilblains.
What a weird year. We knocked down our house to build new, without much of a plan on where to live. We quickly learned that short term rentals are incredibly expensive and hard to come by. We couldn’t find a place to live, so we ended out living 42 weeks in the Airstream.
To clarify, that’s five people, 42 weeks, 200 square feet.
Nuts. It sounds even more nuts now. What were we thinking?
This would’ve been challenging in a normal situation, but the food allergy thing made this even more so. No ordering pizza or Chinese take-out. We still had to make everything in the world’s tiniest kitchen. We ate a lot of grilled food, soup, and bread.
We begged oven time from our neighbors to bake batches of bread and cookies for the deep-freezer in the garage.
Thankfully, we were able to find shelter for the four hard months of winter, house and dog-sitting for some wonderful Florida snowbirds.
I’m actually amazed we kept our jobs and our sanity. Well…maybe not our sanity so much.
Now that we’ve moved into our home, I’ve been pulling my baking supplies and tools from storage.For the kids, it’s like perpetual Christmas. “Oh! The ice cream maker! Oh the pizzelle maker! Oh! The mini muffin pans!” It’s fun to turn my creative efforts from plaster and paint to sugar and more sugar. I’m also very happy to put away the construction boots and pull out the apron instead.
Jack’s 3rd grade class is reading C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” right now, so the request came in for some Turkish Delight for school. In case you’ve forgotten, or haven’t read the book, the White Witch offers Edmund any treat he wishes…and he chooses Turkish Delight. Most kids have no idea what Turkish Delight is, so it’s a perfect class treat during the book.
Except that real Turkish Delight is actually pretty horrible. As a kid reading the story, I imagined it to be a wonderful sticky toffee type candy…something nearly worth Edmund’s betrayal of his siblings. When we visited Turkey, I was very surprised at what it actually is. Traditional Turkish Delight tends to be very mild with floral and spice flavors like rosewater, clove, or cardamom and sometimes has nuts mixed in. I honestly wasn’t very excited about the real stuff when I tasted it. Okay, that’s putting it mildly. The stuff was horrid…like soap flavored gummy bears, or a mouth full of squishy perfume. The reality of the candy was quite depressing because I had such high hopes for it.
The scene in the book is so memorable and sticky wonderful that it deserves an equally wonderful candy. My recipe sticks to tradition with a slow-cooked cornstarch paste, rather than using gelatin, but veers from tradition with strawberry, orange, and watermelon flavors. Even though I was up late stirring vats of hot sugar paste, it was worth it to see the happy smiles of 3rd graders gazing at the piles of sweet magical cubes.
- 4 cups sugar
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup confectioners sugar plus 1/4 cup cornstarch mixed for final dusting
- Candy Flavorings, I use LorAnn
- Line a 9 inch square pan with foil and spray with oil.
- In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine 4 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups of the water, and the lemon juice. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture boils. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 240 F on a candy thermometer (soft ball stage.) Remove the pan from the heat and move onto step #3.
- In a second heavy saucepan (larger than the first), stir together 1 cup cornstarch and the cream of tartar. Gradually stir in the remaining 3 cups of water until no lumps remain. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and is a thick, gluey paste. This happens very fast, don’t step away and don’t stop stirring!
- Slowly pour the hot sugar, water, and lemon juice into the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring often to prevent sticking, for about 1 hour, or until the mixture has become quite thick and slightly golden. It should be so thick that it drawing the stir spoon across the bottom of the pan leaves a trail that closes in slowly. You can test the texture of the product by dropping a blob into some cold water. It should be fairly solid and chewy, not runny.
- ) Stir in the flavoring and tint as desired with food coloring. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Cool to room temperature and let stand, uncovered, overnight to set.
- ) Sift the confectioners sugar and the remaining 1/4 cup cornstarch onto a large cutting board. Turn the Turkish delight out and cut into 1-inch squares with an oiled knife. Roll pieces in the sugar mixture to coat well. Store in an airtight container with sheets of waxed paper, dusted with the sugar mixture, separating every layer.