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Turkish Delight

Recipes

Poh Ling Yeow’s Turkish delight is a perfect sweet indulgence or home-made gift for the festive season.

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The recipe is from the Adelaide-based chef and café owner’s latest cookbook, Poh Bakes 100 Greats, and reflects her view that the process of cooking can be relaxing and meditative.

“It’s really nice to be able to make a basic like this because the practice feels ancient,” she writes in the recipe introduction.

“When you’ve been stirring over a hot stove for a while and there’s not really any gadget that can fast-forward things, you kind of just abandon yourself to the old-worldliness of the act, and wind up having romantic thoughts such as wondering who the first person was ever to make Turkish delight …”

Turkish Delight

Makes about 80 pieces

Recipe and image from Poh Bakes 100 Greats, by Poh Ling Yeow (Murdoch Books, $39.99).

Ingredients

Sugar syrup
580g (2 2/3 cups) sugar
175g (½ cup) honey
Pinch of cream of tartar
125 ml (½ cup) water

Starch mixture
125g (1 cup) wheaten cornflour (cornstarch), see note below
125g (1 cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
625 ml (2½ cups) water
15g gelatine sheets, soaked in a bowl of cool water for 1 minute

Bits & pieces
1 tablespoon rosewater
¼ teaspoon pink or red food colouring
70g (½ cup) toasted pistachio nut kernels, roughly chopped

Dredging powder
125g (1 cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar
60g (½ cup wheaten cornflour (cornstarch)

Method

Line a 20 x 30cm baking tray with baking paper. If you want to be extra cautious, spray the paper with a little cooking oil spray, but wipe off any excess.

To make the sugar syrup, combine the sugar, honey and cream of tartar in a medium–large saucepan. Add the 125ml (½ cup) water. Stir with a metal spoon until smooth, then bring to the boil without disturbing the liquid again. Boil for 10–15 minutes until very little to no steam is rising from the syrup and the mixture turns slightly more golden.

While the sugar syrup is boiling, make the starch mixture by combining the cornflour, icing sugar, cream of tartar and the 625ml (2½ cups) water in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking continuously, until you have a thick, smooth paste. Turn off the heat, but leave the saucepan on the stove.

When the syrup is ready, carefully pour it into the starch mixture, and whisk until smooth. Return the saucepan to medium heat. Cook for 5–10 minutes, whisking continuously, until the mixture is very thick. Squeeze all the water out of the gelatine sheets, and add the gelatine to the mixture with the rosewater, food colouring and pistachios. Stir well, making sure the ingredients are combined and the gelatine has dissolved, then pour into the prepared tray. It will take about 5 hours for the mixture to chill in the fridge and set completely.

To make the dredging powder, sift the icing sugar and cornflour into a medium mixing bowl to combine well. Return the powder to the sieve, and shake generously over the slab of Turkish delight, then flip it over onto a cutting board. Carefully peel off the baking paper. Dust more of the dredging powder over the bottom of the slab (which is now facing upwards), and slice into 2cm squares. Between slices, rinse the knife under hot water, then dry.

Toss the Turkish delight in more of the dredging powder. Store in an airtight container, keeping the layers separated with baking paper. These will keep well for up to a month in a cool place.

Note

I only use wheaten cornflour (cornstarch) in my baking. It’s not accurately named and it’s the old-fashioned stuff everyone used until a few years ago, when gluten intolerances resulted in maize cornstarch becoming more prevalent. Texturally, maize cornflour leaves a grainy residue in the mouth. To be sure what you’re getting, always check the ingredients list on the packet.

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