A confectioner named Bekir Effendi, who opened a sweet shop in Istanbul in 1776, is credited with creating this delicacy. His sweet shop still stands today. After Effendi made his first batch of this special creation, it wasn’t long before it gained entry into the royal court. The Sultan at the time fell in love with its soft and tender texture, which was a welcome change from the other tough or brittle sweets they were accustomed to in those days. Soon after, Lokum became chic amongst the socialities of Istanbul and sweethearts exchanged it as tokens of their love for each other.
The rest of the world has an unknown Brit to thank for the flour, water, honey and flower-essence sweet. After he became fond of it during his travels to Istanbul, he shipped a case back to Britain under the name of Turkish Delight. It almost immediately became a delicacy amongst Europe’s high society, who would exchange pieces of Turkish Delight wrapped in silk or lace handkerchiefs as elegant gifts.
This recipe is really fun to make and the result feels like something special despite being surprisingly easy! It’s a great one to make as a gift – maybe a Christmas gift?
You only need a few things to whip up this rose Turkish delight and, if like me you bake a lot, you may already have the ingredients in your cupboards.
1.Take out a small non-stick baking pan and grease it with neutral flavoured oil which will prevent the mixture from sticking to the pan. As extra protection, you could line it with greaseproof (parchment) paper.
2. In a mixing bowl, dissolve the cornflour into 120ml (1/2 cup) water. Ensure there are no lumps.
3. In a large saucepan, on medium heat, add the remaining water and the cornstarch mixture. Stir to combine. Then add the sugar, lemon juice and agar agar. Although traditional Turkish delight doesn’t contain a setting agent, adding it helps it to set more easily.
4. Continue cooking until the sugar dissolves stirring the mixture frequently.
5. Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat to a gently simmer and let the mixture cook for about 25 minutes, until it achieves a smooth and glossy consistency.
6. Let it cool for 10 minutes before adding the rosewater and the food colouring to the mix. Then stir through to combine them with the other ingredients.
7. Pour the completed mixture into the pre-prepared pan and leave it to sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours (or overnight).
8. Once set, remove the block from the pan and slice it into cubes. As a helpful reminder, this recipe yields 32 cubes! You can place the cubes on a plate or a board. but just make sure that you leave space in between each one so they don’t stick together. Now, they need to sit at room temperature for at least 24 hours.
9. As a final step, mix together and sieve the icing sugar and 1 tbsp cornflour. Dip the Turkish delight pieces into the mixture to coat well. The powdered sugar adds even more sweetness to this wonderful treat.
10. Luckily, these are great to make ahead of time and you can enjoy them well after you make them! Leftovers – as if! – should keep well for 2 weeks in an airtight container.