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My Adventures Making (And Researching) Turkish Delight

A friend of mine brought back some Turkish delight candy last week from her trip to Turkey. Real, authentic turkish delight: chewy, lightly flavored, and just sweet enough. This particular variety was pomegranate-flavored with pistachios. It was pretty delightful.

After that, I went on a mission to research Turkish delight and candy making in general. Out of all of my culinary exploits, candy making is one of those things that have eluded me. I could never get it right no matter what I tried. My pecan pralines never hardened and my fudge stayed goopy. But after a lot of research, I realized candy making had two ingredients that I lacked: patience and accuracy.

Cooking is easy despite what amateurs may say. There’s a lot of room for error in cooking. Measurements don’t always have to be precise which is why Food Network chefs like Rachel Ray can get away with the “palmful” method.

In baking, preciseness is a necessity. If it calls for 1 cup of cake flour, it implies one level cup of cake flour that’s been filled, not by dunking the cup in the bin of cake flour, but filled by using a smaller scoop to collect the flour and then pouring it into the measuring cup and then leveled off by using the straight side of a butter knife.

Candy making takes baking a step further and requires not only patience, preciseness, but in some cases, knowledge of weather and humidity. Various candy making references even say to prepare candy (especially candy that starts with a sugar syrup) on days with low humidity.

I could talk on and on about some of the stuff I’ve read on the science behind candy making, but I’m going to move on to the more interesting part of this post and that’s the recipe for Turkish delight. The nice thing about this candy is it has relatively few ingredients and steps, but it does require a lot of time (sometimes up to 3 hours from beginning to end, depending on how long it takes for your syrup to reach the required stage) and a lot of forethought if you’re a first-timer.

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