‘‘It is dull, Son of Adam, to drink without eating,’’ said the Queen presently. ‘‘What would you like best to eat?’’
“Turkish Delight, please, your Majesty,” said Edmund.
The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious.
– C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Like many American children, when I first read about Edmund’s obsession with Turkish Delight, my reaction was, “What’s that?” The sweet treat, called rahat lokum in Turkish, has been around since the 18th century, and has gained popularity world-wide. You can purchase a tin of Turkish Delight online, but the prepackaged version pales in comparison to a fresh, homemade batch—like the difference between a package of Hostess Donuts and buying a hot donut fresh from the bakery.
Turkish Delight comes in many flavors—rose, lemon and pistachio are the most popular. However, this is a treat in honor of The Chronicles of Narnia, so I decided to make it more British by infusing Earl Gray tea flavor. Make a batch, brew a cup and cozy up to enter Narnia.
Earl Gray Turkish Delight
Spoiler alert: The candy will need to set overnight, so I’ve broken up the process into two sessions.
- 4 cups sugar
- 4 ½ cups room temperature Earl Gray tea (strongly brewed)
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Earl Gray tea reduction*
- Line a 9 x 9 inch pan with foil and grease it. Set it aside.
- In a large sauce pan, combine the sugar, juice and 1 ½ cups of the tea. Over medium heat, stir until the sugar dissolves.
- Bring the mixture to a boil. Insert a candy thermometer, and allow it to continue to boil without stirring until it reaches 230–240° F.
- While the mixture is heating, prepare the rest of the ingredients. In a separate sauce pan, mix the remaining 3 cups of tea, cornstarch and cream of tartar. Mix until the lumps of cornstarch dissolve. It will resemble milk.
- Prepare the flavoring, but don’t add it yet.
- Once the sugar mixture has reached 230–240° F, turn off the heat and leave the pot on the stove.
- Place the second sauce pan over medium heat and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly.
- This part is tricky. The cornstarch mix will become gluey. As soon as this happens, turn off the heat add it to the sugar mix. Tip: when it starts to congeal, turn off the heat and continue stirring until the whole mixture is sticky.
- Whisk the two mixes together. Bring the heat to a simmer, and continue to let it cook for about 40 minutes. Whisk every 8–10 minutes, until it reaches a clear golden brown (the color of caramel). To test it, take out the spoon or spatula and see if the mixture congeals into a jelly-like substance.
- Turn off the heat. Add the flavoring.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Let it sit overnight, uncovered, to congeal.
- Prepare a mixture of the powdered sugar and about ¼ cup cornstarch.
- Spread some of the mixture over a bread board. Turn out the Turkish Delight onto the prepared surface.
- Spread the sugar over the top and sides of the block. Using an oiled knife, cut it into bite-sized pieces.
- Roll the pieces in the sugar to coat.
- Store the Turkish Delight in an air-tight container, such as a tin. (However, the sugar may soak into the candy, so have some extra on hand to coat the pieces again before serving.)
* To make the Earl Gray tea reduction, you’ll just need 1 cup water, ½ cup sugar and a couple Earl Gray tea bags. Add them to a small sauce pan and bring it to a boil until the mixture reduces. It’s ready when it has the consistency of syrup or molasses. Pour it into an air-tight container for storage and you’re ready to go!