Baking - Desserts, Ingredient Insights

Turkish Delight: A Comparison

Turkish delight was never something I really enjoyed as a child. There was something about the texture and the perfumey rosewater flavour that just didn’t appeal. But over the years I have acquired a taste for it, if it’s done right. I’ve had some that are more like ju-jubes, but if it has delicately firm texture, and a slightly less perfumey taste, it can become a bit addictive.

A few weeks ago I was looking through our Joy of Cooking cookbook and found two recipes for turkish delight. One suggested using jelly, such as quince, for flavouring, and given my recent quince jelly endeavour, I thought it might be fun to give it a try.

Pectin based delight sitting out to dry. Notice the blotchy icing sugar being absorbed.

The first recipe used pectin and corn syrup as the gelling agents, and the second used gelatin. I made the pectin one first, which requires you to boil and stir two pots simultaneously before mixing them together and pouring into a pan to cool. I followed the directions very carefully, timing everything as it said. It only took a couple hours to gel at room temperature. Then I cut them into pieces, tossed them in icing sugar and set them out to dry overnight. In the morning I discovered that all the candies had absorbed the icing sugar, and started dripping syrup all over the counter below. I tried to re-coat them several times, but they just kept dissolving and dripping. The taste was good, and the texture was okay; not  like the best turkish delight I’ve ever had, but still a nice sweet treat, despite the syrup goo.

I decided to also try the second gelatin based recipe to see if it would be any different. Unlike the first recipe, there was only one pot to boil, and I needed to use a thermometer to measure the temperature. It took a lot longer to gel in the pan, but was definitely less moist; one coating of icing sugar did the trick. Unfortunately the texture was disappointing; more like a ju-jube, or very firm jello. And with the gelatin they’re not vegetarian friendly.

Some recipes that I found online don’t use pectin or gelatin, they use corn starch. I liked the pectin recipe for the most part, but wonder if it would have been better to boil the pots a bit longer, or actually measure the temperature, even though that’s not what the recipe called for. If anyone has a good recipe for turkish delight they can recommend, I’d love to try it. Until then, we’ll make the best of our little jelly chews.

Baking - General

Quince Jelly Success!

Despite my disappointing failure with making quince jelly a few weeks ago, I pulled up my boot straps and decided to try again. As I type I am hearing several jar lids pop into place, securing the tasty jelly into its new home.

I made about six cups of quince juice a couple weeks ago, but because I had several other baking projects on the go I wasn’t able to make the jelly right away, so I froze the juice. This weekend I had some free time, and was stuck inside because it was dismally rainy, so I decided to give it a go.

After prepping all the jars, lids and equipment, I double checked that my thermometer was working properly. When I put it in boiling water, it registered 102C, meaning that the boiling point was different either because of the sea level, or because my thermometer was not calibrated. The recipe said to boil the juice (and sugar) to four degrees celcius above the local boiling point, so I aimed to boil it to 106C.

Once the juice hit 106C I removed the pot from the stove, and tested with a spoon for sheeting. To me it did not look like it was sheeting, but the liquid that was coating the spoon seemed to be gelling as it cooled, so I declared it ready for canning. I was able to fill five jars with the amber jelly, and in the time it took me to write this post all the lids have all popped.

Quince is not a commonly used fruit – definitely too hard and sour to eat on its own. It makes a tart and aromatic jelly, the kind that makes your mouth water as soon as it hits your tongue. And my tongue is very excited about having some with crackers and cream cheese!

Baking - General

Quince Candy? My Adventure with Canning

Straining cooked quince for juice.

We have an ornamental quince shrub in our back yard, and I thought it might be fun to try and make some quince jelly. I’ve never made jelly by myself, or really done any canning on my own, so I read up on it and began to feel a bit intimidated. But I soldiered on, excited about the idea of making my very first jelly.

Quince are a fruit that have enough natural pectin that none needs to be added. So all I had to do was cook the quince, drain the juice, add some sugar and lemon juice and cook away. Sounds easy enough. I got all the canning equipment ready and heated, and started to cook.

Now, I should mention, I didn’t harvest very many quince, and I didn’t know how much it would make – I ended up with 1 1/2 cups of juice – so I only prepped two jars. I cooked the sugar-juice mixture, figuring it wouldn’t take as long as a full batch. And it didn’t. In fact, it cooked so quickly I was worried it had burned.

I checked regularly with a sheeting test on a spoon, but obviously need a bit more practice, because it looked like it was still dripping quickly off the spoon, but ended up gelling onto the spoon quite firmly. My husband likened it to a fruit roll-up! Unfortunately, once it cooled in the jar, it was even more solid…in fact, completely solid!

My first jar of jelly (yes, I only ended up with one jar) is more like a giant hard candy in a glass wrapper, which I may never get out, but at least I have a better idea of how it’s supposed to go. And I also still have a shrub full of quince so I can try again!

One lonely jar of quince candy!
Boiling the sugar-juice mixture for jelly.