Turkish Delight…the Food of Fairies.

We just started reading C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobethis past week, and found inspiration for this treat. 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.

As a kid, I had no idea what Turkish Delight was…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 suprised at what it actually was. Traditional Turkish Delight tends to be very mild in taste and has floral/spicey 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, I really wanted to make a version for Brynn that would give her a good association to the Turkish Delight. For our case, I zipped the flavors up a bit with Pink Grapefruit, Raspberry and Orange. I also chose a traditional slow-cooked cornstarch recipe, rather than the quick versions out there using gelatin (the vegans out there are cheering). In the end, the candy reminded me of Dots candy, and that would be a good association around here. The girls, of course, thought it tasted like Fairy Food.

Yes, fairies have to brush their teeth too…

Turkish Delight
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
1.) Line a 9 inch square pan with plastic wrap or foil and oil well.
2.) In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine the 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.
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!
4.) 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. 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.
5.) Stir in the flavoring (see below) 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.
6.) 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.
For flavorings, just use your imagination. Because you’re adding it at the end for a more pronounced flavor, make sure whatever you use is very concentrated (i.e. don’t add orange juice or actual lemonade, it will take too much to flavor it and make your product soft) For pink grapefruit, I had some concentrate in the freezer, I just boiled it down until even more concentrated and added it at the end. For orange, I just used orange extract and some lemon oil. For raspberry, I boiled some homemade raspberry jam down and strained out the seeds.


  1. Camille says

    I've only had "real" Turkish Delight (I pick it up in Istanbul whenever I'm there — which hasn't been since 2001), but I'd love to give this a try to see how it compares. If I recall correctly, it can also have nuts in it. Pistachio, I believe, is quite common. You should be able to find rosewater easily in Dearborn or any Middle Eastern market if you wanted to try it with that flavor. I have found that people either love TD or hate it! :-)

  2. Miryam (mama o' the matrices) says

    excellent! We're hunkering down for a storm – and winter break – here, and slow cooking projects like this one are perfect.

    Besides, until the nut allergy showed up, the Man adored Turkish Delight.

  3. Amy says

    Oh, how cool! All of us love the Narnia books (and movies). I just may have to give this a try, though I'm not much of a cook :-) My kids would be thrilled.

  4. Janice says

    Hi, just wondering if I can use concentrated rosewater for making turkish delight or do I need to dilute it?


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