Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Turkish Delight, a Cooking Disaster from the Archives, and a Big Location Change

Since my last post I have had a MAJOR change of location... new job, new city, and a new coast. I'm still up to all the same old things though, so, no big changes around these parts.

BUT, one thing that has changed is that my new location comes with the most amazing, awesome, exciting grocery store I have ever seen (did I just call a grocery store exciting? yes. yes I did). It's like every little ethnic grocery store I used to go to in LA is combined in to one place. I probably could have browsed for hours. Among other things, I got cactus fruit (3 for a dollar! how do you eat it? I don't know yet!), ripe plantains, fresh feta, fresh pita, giant Peruvian corn, some Peruvian chile purees (now I just have to make my sister-in-law teach me to use them!), amazing tabouli, AND freshly made Turkish Delight.

Now Turkish Delight has a special spot in my heart, dating back to the days when I first read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and Edmund was lured by the White Witch with huge amounts of Turkish Delight (yes, I read those books many many times. No, I did not see the movies- I watched just a few minutes of the first one, saw the witch had the wrong color hair, and decided to turn it off in case it ruined the books for me). Anyhow, I had no idea what it was, but it sounded so mysterious and amazing. To be honest, in my head, it was basically exactly like the inside of a Butterfingers bar. Who knows where I got that idea, but when forced to come up with the most delicious thing I could think of, that's what I got (mmmmmmm, Butterfinger)

So, a year or so ago, I heard about someone MAKING Turkish Delight, and was completely intrigued. I found out, at that point, that it's NOT even remotely Butterfinger related, but it's a delicate jelled sweet cut into cubes and dusted with powdered sugar. See how it is smooth and almost gooey?

I was excited to try it, so I proceeded. The recipe I found called for:
- 4c sugar (granulated)
- 1.25 c cornstartch
- 1 tsp cream of tarter
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- rosewater (which I didn't have)
- 1 c powdered sugar
- a bit of vegetable oil

The recipe ALSO required a candy thermometer, but mine was broken. This was my first mistake. I have been making English Toffee, peanut brittle, fudge etc for years, and am at the point with those that I can actually do a pretty good job even without the thermometer. So, feeling like I had a good handle on the cooking stages, I proceeded anyways. This might have been ok if I had ANY idea what texture I was going for.

You can see the recipe I followed here, but given my results, I'll leave it to you to find the recipe you want to use (of course, all mistakes are mine and don't reflect on the recipe at all). Essentially you cook the water, sugar, and lemon juice until it reaches 240, then combine with a lightly cooked cornstarch mixture. Easy-peasy, right?

This was mine. I used food coloring to try to get a delicate pink color, but as you can see it just turned red (second mistake).
Looks ok, right? it just poured right in! At this point I was pretty pleased with myself.

Now, you are supposed to let it cool for 24 hours. With intense anticipation, that's what I did. Then you're supposed to invert it and slice. Mine would not invert. I pounded, I banged, I ran hot water over it. There was no way it was coming out of that pan on it's own. So, I decided to slice it in the pan.

As you can see, I finally managed to hack out a corner. In case you didn't notice, this does NOT look like the stuff I bought today.

At this point, I realized I'd gone astray, so I decided to toss it and start over. HA! I don't know what I made, but whatever it was, it took THREE DAYS to soak it out of the pan. Maybe it was the cornstarch, I don't really know, but I truly believe that that stuff could be adopted by the government to make shields, or buildings in war zones, or bomb proof boxes.

Not to be thwarted, once the pan was finally clean, I tried again.

This time, as you can see, I cooked it a little less and got a substance with a little more mobility- it would at least bend, but it was very very hard. This one could have been adopted by the American Dental Association as some kind of magical filling/crown remover- I was afraid to even chew on it.

I finally gave up. I always meant to try again, and never posted these pictures because I wanted to wait until I did it right (kind of like one of my other cooking disasters, the infamous Dulce de Leche) Now, fortunately, thanks to my move, and to the magical grocery store, I don't have to! I can't say I'm not relieved.

So, Turkish Delight. If you manage to make it work, let me know- best of luck, I'll finally be moving on!

ps. If you're want some evidence to back up my strong feelings about the Witch's hair, here it is ;-).
The real witch:
This is from my (probably 'vintage' by now) book, which I unearthed while moving. It's night, so I couldn't get the overall color right, but you can see the hair is clearly black.

The movie witch:
The amazing Tilda Swinton. With the wrong color hair.


3 comments:

Ragamuffin said...

my fondness for Turkish Delight also stems from the Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe :) it was many years after reading the books and seeing the films that i actually found some to try. was nothing like i had imagined it! but love it all the same.

love that you share the stories of your Process!

Debnsamsfoodblog said...

Ha ha...I've just made this ( 10 minutes ago ) and have found your blog having typed in ' Turkish Delight Mistake '. It's so much harder than I had thought and I think I cooked my sugar at too high a temperature as it's a bit too golden. This must be the stickiest stuff known to mankind! Anyhow, I'll blog the results tomorrow if I can get it out of the bladdy pan.

yellowfish said...

Ha!!! that is hilarious! I will keep my eye out for your post, glad to hear I have a comrade in Turkish Delight failure :-).

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