The truth is, after my blasé swaggering about saying “candy thermometer? What is one of those? I’ve made marshmallows dah-ling … I just have the knack, Turkish Delight will simply be a doddle!” – I did begin to wonder whether I hadn’t bitten off more than I could chew.
As I mentioned, and got rather excited about, last week I found this recipe which is very detailed, specific, has photos of each step (with, for some reason, a woman demonstrating in a French maid outfit…) and actually quite entertainingly written. So, of course, at 10pm on a Wednesday night I decided to have a go.
After about 2 hours in total of weighing, measuring, boiling up sugar and in the meantime preparing another pan of the (non-13 yr old) cream of tartar and water in order to boil them both to exactly the right temperature before adding them together at the perfect moment, then stirring for about 40 minutes I had… a lump of goo. Well, actually I think that’s how it’s supposed to look at that moment because I added the red colouring and rose water and suddenly I had a substance that highly resembled Turkish Delight! I left it to set overnight, as instructed.
The next day, after rolling the pieces … and mostly myself actually… in icing sugar and cornflour I had a beautiful little box of rose and orange blossom Turkish Delight. Perfect! … Well, not quite.
It seems that during my process, something didn’t get boiled enough. As my recipe explains to me, “To make turkish delight you partially caramelize/polymerize sugar then mix the wet corn starch matrix in, and boil it down until you drive enough moisture out that the whole mass locks together.”
Some way along the line, some polymers or some moisture or some other part of the candy-matrix didn’t quite work. Is this because I’m not The One? No… it’s not that sort of matrix! It just meant that when I laid out the Turkish Delight box on the table of Lebanese desserts (of which I have no pictures of course, unfortunately not being very well-versed in taking pictures of every hour of my life and putting it on facebook when there’s good food and old friends about)… the Turkish Delight appeared to have morphed into one large ball which when cut left a stringy un-cuttable line hanging from it. In my defence, it tasted perfect! But it didn’t get eaten… it got laughed at. And that’s the true indication as to whether you got the recipe right.
So my conclusion… is it a candy thermometer I need? In actual fact, I came so close to succeeding I would still try the recipe again and boil the sugar for longer before parting with £20 to buy a thermometer. No, I think the crucial part of the recipe that I missed out on was right under:
“Things you will need:
An assistant helps a great deal” [Cue picture of woman in French maid outfit]
This is clearly what I was missing out on. However, since French maid isn’t really my thing, perhaps what I really need is to get one of these via male order: