Rose Water "Turkish Delights" and "The White Issue"

** I am tickled to mention that the article below is currently being included in a beautiful magazine called The Gatherings.  They have published a gorgeous issue this month called "The White Issue" especially for the winter season.  Please follow the link and enjoy all of the other wonderful articles.

Many of us recall that scene in the movie “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” when Edward is tempted by the evil White Witch with “Turkish Delights”.  So many of us had to experience the taste of those soft pillowy little treats.  

Like many others, we had never encountered sweets like these before.  With the fluffy white snowflakes falling and Edward wrapped up, nestled in that gorgeous winter sleigh, those Turkish Delights rested so innocently in the beautiful candy bowl and enticed many viewers to seek out their pleasures.

Our family, too, became fascinated by those wintery-looking soft little squares.   We seemed to stumble across them in each place we’ve lived.  My son, like many young Edwards in the world, was most fascinated by these sugary confections.  

I went on a quest to find these delights and bring the movie to reality for us. 

Every Christmas, since my son was eight, regardless of which new city we called home, he finds a little box of Turkish Delights tucked into his holiday stocking.  Right near the Public Market in Seattle, Washington there is a little shop, called Turkish Delight that sells all varieties of these pillowy soft powdered sugar treats.  

We reveled in selecting a few flavors to try and throughout the day in Seattle we enjoyed these little bites.

Again, in London, England we unexpectedly came across another source for Turkish Delights.  It was a brisk and windy November day in the city of London.  We decided to visit the wonderful Borough Street Market (a must see if you are a foodie).  We came across a Turkish stall that offered an array of Turkish Delights.  We scooped up little bags of assorted flavors and enjoyed the wintery London day, wrapped up in big scarves, and little nibbles at our fingertips.

Now, we find ourselves in the vast metropolis of Houston.  We knew Turkish Delights could likely be found in this huge multi-cultural population.  It didn’t take us long to discover the popular and fascinating Middle Eastern market, Phoenicia, right here in the city.  

While fresh pita bread slides down a circular conveyor belt right in the middle of the market, tucked in the back of the store, Middle Eastern sweets are prepared and sold in the store’s bakery.  And, of course, an array of Turkish Delights is offered in assorted flavor varieties. 

We have always enjoyed the intriguing flavor of rose water in these sweet confections.  Making them at home was a fun candy endeavor as we attempted to master the art of making these candies.   We have always stumbled across Turkish Delights during the cold winter months.  The scene from “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” is so filled with frosty wind-chilled moments, just like during the cold of winter when we   enjoyed these candies.  

The powdered sugar flutters all over scarves and mitts and the velvety texture of the candy is such a contrast to the iciness all around.  Turkish Delights…depicted in a captivating moment in a childhood film…that inspired a generation of winter holiday tradition in our family, from Turkish Delights found in Seattle, Washington to London, England and now in Houston, Texas.  

Microwave Turkish Delight
(recipe is from the popular blog ‘Sprinkle Bakes’)

4 qt. microwave safe glass bowl - such as Pyrex (we used a plastic mixing bowl)
8x8 pan or standard loaf pan (we used an 11x14 tray)
Two pot holders
Knife or scissors

Make the candy:
2 1/2 cups of cold water
3/4 cup cornstarch, plus 1/2 cup for dusting candy squares
3 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tbsp. pure rose water extract (or known as syrup)
2 drops red or pink liquid food coloring
Cooking spray, or cooking oil (light taste, like canola) for greasing pan
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Ground pistachios *optional

Pour the water into a 4-quart glass bowl.  Whisk in the 3/4 cup cornstarch 1/4 cup at a time until dissolved.  Microwave mixture for 2 minutes; whisk smooth.  Return to microwave and heat for 2-3 more minutes, or until the mixture starts to turn opaque.  Whisk again - mixture should have the appearance of white paste.
Add sugar and corn syrup.  (we used a hand mixture until it got too thick)

Heat for 5 minutes in microwave.  Remove bowl with pot holders and whisk smooth.  Heat for 5 more minutes; remove and whisk smooth again.  At this point the mixture will be thick and translucent. 

Heat for an additional 5 minutes and whisk in rosewater syrup and food coloring.  Whisk until mixture is smooth and color is evenly distributed.  Heat 3 more minutes in microwave. 

You'll know when the mixture is done when you try to whisk the mixture and a large portion of the candy batter holds in the balloon of your whisk.  Mixture will be very thick.  You can check consistency by letting a small bit candy batter sit for a few minutes in a condiment cup.  When cooled a little, you should be able to pick it up and roll it into a ball without it being tacky.  **This is an important step.  F it isn’t tacky, they will be too soft to hold a nice shape.  If your batter has not reached consistency, heat at 3 minute intervals until consistency is achieved.

Grease the 8x8 or loaf pan (we used an 11x14 tray) with cooking spray or oil and pour in candy batter.  Spray/grease the back of a spoon -the batter doesn't spread well, so just do the best you can to spread it evenly with the back of greased spoon.  Let candy set up at room temperature until firm enough to handle. This may take several hours - mine set up in about two.

Cut candy with a sharp knife or scissors into even squares. You can do this in the pan or turn the block of candy out on a cutting board dusted with cornstarch.  I cut mine a little larger than usual at about 1 1/2" square.  In a bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup cornstarch and 1/2 cup powdered sugar.  Roll candy in mixture.  Serve candy topped with pistachios on a tray with cocktail picks, or in individual paper cups.

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