Thursday, December 22, 2011


Best Blog Tips

Before Christmas arrives, I'd like to share one more recipe from my new book, World Vegan Feast...a beautiful and mouthwatering modern version of a Christmas treat with over two centuries of history behind it.

I am not regular a candy maker, but one day I had some pomegranates that needed using, so I juiced them and decided to try making this old-fashioned treat for the first time, but with my own new flavoring combination. We had just seen the film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Turkish Delight figured in the story: 
"Lokum, called Turkish Delight, plays an interesting role in CS Lewis’ novel The Chronicles of Narnia and its Hollywood counterpart The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which was released in 2005. The film in particular introduced Americans to the age old Turkish candy. The White Witch of Narnia tempts young Edmund to bring his siblings to the ice castle with Turkish Delight. The irresistible temptation peeked the interest of many American viewers, and Turkish Delight sales hit a sudden high." From  

Doing a little research, I discovered that Turkish Delight, traditionally known as Lokum, indeed originated in Turkey, invented in 1777 by famous confectioner named Bekir Effendi (known as Haci Bekir after his hajj pilgrimage). Haci Bekir owned a candy shop in the Bahcekapi district of Istanbul, which is still open today in the exact same location. 

Haci Bekir’s 5th generation descendants believe the first recipe for Lokum originated from an Anatolian candy traditionally made using honey or grape molasses (pekmez) and flour.  Haci Bekir transformed this into Lokum, using the at-that-time-newly-available ingredient, sugar, and cornstarch (called cornflour in the UK and many other regions). Turkish Delight, or Lokum, if you prefer, has a soft, gelatin-like texture, often with chopped nuts inside, and subtle flavoring. It is cut into small cubes and coated in powdered sugar. 

Lokum became very popular among Turks and Haci Bekir was appointed Chief Confectioner for the Ottoman Court and awarded a medal of honor by the Sultan.  This jewel-like treat was soon discovered by an English traveler who called the candy “Turkish Delight” and introduced it to Europe. Today, in many countries around the world, Lokum is still known as Turkish Delight.

Haci Bekir’s confectionery is the oldest company in Turkey to operate from its original location. It now has representative companies in several countries and , though the original recipe for Lokum has changed very little, the company sells Turkish Delight in 12 flavors, but not pomegranate!  I thought that pomegranate juice would be an ideal base for this candy, not only because of its tart/sweet flavor and nutritional qualities, but because if is beautiful color.  Walnuts seemed to me to be an ideal addition.  This actually turned out to be very simple to make and a very satisfying and eye-appealing Christmas treat.

Makes 36 pieces
This candy is quite refreshing and very beautiful. The recipe is from my new book, World Vegan Feast .
NOTE: If you follow the links in the ingredient list, you can see that you can make this with organic, fair trade ingredients.

1 3/4 cup water, divided
2/3 cup pomegranate juice (unsweetened bottled, or fresh-- see below)
2 cups organic unbleached granulated sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup chopped, lightly-toasted walnuts
1/2 cup organic powdered sugar

Mix 1 cup water with the pomegranate juice and set it aside in a medium saucepan.

Combine the sugar and 3/4 cup water in another medium saucepan over medium-high heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid starts to bubble. Allow the mixture to boil, without stirring, until it registers 260ºF on a candy thermometer (this takes about 15 minutes).

While the sugar mixture is coming to temperature, sift the 1/2 cup cornstarch and cream of tartar together into the water/pomegranate juice mixture. Whisk it until all of the lumps are dissolved. Cook it over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it becomes very thick and clear looking. Reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon.

As soon at the candy thermometer in the sugar/water mixture registers 260ºF, remove the mixture from the stove. Pour the hot mixture slowly into the cornstarch mixture, whisking vigorously. When it is thoroughly combined and formed into a thick sticky paste, add the walnuts and continue cooking, stirring all the while with a wooden spoon, over low heat for 45 minutes longer. The paste will continue to thicken during this time and should be very thick.

Microwave Option: I get impatient with making candy, which is one reason why I seldom make it, so. You can microwave it from the time you add the walnuts for approximately 20 minutes at 50% power.

Whichever way you cook it, when the paste is very thick, remove it from the heat and use a spatula to transfer the paste into a well-oiled 8-inch square baking pan. Press the mixture evenly into the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator to cool for at least 2 hours. The finished product should be quite firm when cool.

Remove the pan from the refrigerator. The bottom of the pan should be cold. If it is still warm, chill longer.

Mix the remaining cornstarch with the powdered sugar. Spread 1/4 cup of this mixture over a sheet of baking parchment on your work surface. You should be able to lift the Turkish Delight out of the pan with your hands. Place the square of Turkish Delight on top of the powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture and spread more of it over the top of the square with your fingers. Once the square is covered on all sides with a layer of powdered sugar/cornstarch mix, use a sharp knife to cut it into 36 squares.

Toss the small squares with more powdered sugar/cornstarch mixture to coat them on all sides. Store the candy in an airtight container.

TIP: How to juice a pomegranate
Just cut it in half horizontally and juice it on a orange juicer-- I use a manual one. You get lots of juice out of one large pomegranate!

Happy Holidays! 



Louie b. Free said...

My producer's pom/lima bean salad:

will you come on the show sometime?

Vegan Fazool said...

Bryanna, you have no idea how long I've wanted a recipe for Turkish Delight (and I am a huge C.S. Lewis fan, so sympathize with Edmund's addiction).

CAN'T wait to try this.

Thank you so much!!

Det Daglige Brød i Skovkanten said...

diamant candy, yummy.

thank you and happy holydays to you.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Sure, Louie-- let me know.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Let me know how it goes, Dawn!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Thanks, Det Daglige Brød i Skovkanten!

Rose Green said...

This stuff was fabulous--much better than the rose water kind that tastes like you're eating perfume! My only question was how to spread it in the pan when it's so hot you can't touch it with your fingers. I tried putting a piece of wax paper over it so I could use a hot pad, but uh...then everything stuck to the paper. So, messy, but tasty!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Rose Green, you could try oiling or wetting the spatula and pressing down with that.

Anonymous said...

Is there a way to use another type of sugar and still get it to set properly? I'd love to make some for Christmas gifts for diabetic relatives.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

I have no idea, Anonymous. I've never worked with sugar subs. You could peruse some diabetic recipe sites and see if you can find some ideas, perhaps using xylitol, or something like that.