Food & Beverage

Jan 1, 2017

PIECES OF PLEASURE

It is not possible to determine neither date nor origin of this Turkish cooking delicacy. There are, however, reports from the middle East and India which register the existence of gelatinous sweets, made out of honey and fruit essences, for more than 800 years ago. Today, some of the ingredients and techniques, got replaced by modern ones.

Nowadays, the recipes practiced, replaced honey by sugar or pectine in order to give it thickness, and gelatines instead of fruit essences. But the final result is pretty much the same. It is a gelatinous semi solid delicate flavour sweet.

According to the oldest known bakery that produces this sweet (Hacı Bekir, founded in Istambul, in 1777), the current recipe was created by its founder Bekir Efendi. This master of bakkery was at the service of the imperial court and its Ottoman Sultan in particular. According to the story told by the company, the creation and establishment of the current recipe originated out of a complaint by the Sultan for having cracked a tooth while chewing a crunchy.

The episode led to the creation of this sweet, less aggressive to the teeth and more to the taste of the Sultan, and also to the recognition of Bekir Efendi as the Sultans particular confectioner.

The Turkish name "lokum" derives from the Arabic Halkum, or Al-Halkum which means "soothes the throat".

As to the designation Turkish Delight (as it is known nowadays), must had its origin in early 19th century, after a british traveller which, travelling in Turkey, surrendered to this delicacy and immediately ordered a large quantity to sell it in England.

As soon as it got ready for distribution, before the need to give it a name, which he didn't remember, he decided to refer to its original country, thus becoming known in the western world as Turkish Delight.

Presentation

This gelatinous sweet is usually presented in squares, wrapped in sugar, and it can be cooked in many flavours. Most common are the fruit flavour, but it can also be produced out of plants and flowers, like roses, for instance.

Given its finishing and presentation, this sweet can cause some inconvenience when eaten. The sugar coverture falls and spreads very easily.

Once prepared, isn't it convenient to store it in damp locations. The moisture creates a crispy crust around the squares and the sugar that is sprinkled turns dry and it spreads even more easily.

Recipe and preparation (Pomegranate flavour)

– 1 + 3/4 cups of water;
– 2/3 cups of Promegranate juice;

– 2 cups of sugar;

– ½ cups of corn flour;

– ½ teaspoon cream of tartar;

– ½ cup of unsalted pistacchios and without skin;

– ½ tablespoon lemon juice;

– corn flour and sugar for dusting.

In a pan pour a cup of water, add Pomegranate juice, corn flour, cream of tartar and lemon. Mix everything together over a low heat, stirring constantly until it becomes a thick and transparent cream.
Put aside to prepare the syrup.

In another saucepan, put 3/4 cup water and 2 cups of sugar. Place a stronger fire, stirring for about 15 minutes until it reaches boiling.

Remove from heat and stir in the starting cream. Place over low heat, stirring constantly until it gets a homogeneous paste.

Next, add the pistacchios and place over a medium fire, mixing very well for about 45 to 60 minutes, until it gets consistent.

Remove from oven and spread in a well greased with oil cooking board.

When it gets cold, you can leave it outdoors from one day to the next, or put in the freezer to get cold faster.

Afterwards, cut into 3 cm square and pass them all in a bowl where you put previously powdered sugar and corn flour. It is important to involve the squares in this mixture so that the pastry won't stick to everything.

You can also use grated coconut, pistacchios, almonds or nuts in order to enrich its flavour.

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