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Vegan Food, Family & Travel

Turkish Delight (Homemade Vegan Gummy Candy)

MeetTheShannonsTurkishDelightIt’s been an eventful week  for the Ol’ Shannons. We’re getting the edits back today from our publisher for our second book – which has been a journey to put in nicely in itself let me tell you. We had multiple doctor visits in the city for this whole baby project we’ve been working on – all on the Upper West Side – which is over an hour on the train each way from the corner of Brooklyn we call home. I finally saw Clerks II*.  And we’ve been preparing to do a cooking demo and presentation at the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival this weekend. Our demo is tomorrow at 4pm. We’re giving out food samples and answering any questions you might have so it’ll be worth sticking around for. The rest of the day I’m going to be at the Herbivore Clothing Company Booth helping out my lovely friend Michelle – so come by and say “Hi!”

NYC Veg Food Festival - Photo Credit: Village Voice
NYC Veg Food Festival – Photo Credit: Village Voice

But sadly there are some of you who aren’t going to be able to make it to that. Some of you are even going to be stuck inside hiding out from the next snow storm rumored to be hitting Massachusetts to Kanas this weekend. So I thought it was a good time to share a recipe that I’ve been holding on to for over a year. I was going to save this recipe for a travel book we want to do someday but then yesterday I started humming that song “We need a little Christmas“** while I was cleaning and it hit me that this is a recipe that had found it’s time and place on the blog. This easy candy recipe is something you can try with school aged kids or just make while you overdose on Netflix and bring into work on Monday to share with co-workers.

Now I grew up with a grandma who ate rosewater Turkish delight candy, so these little powdered sugar covered gummy treats weren’t really new to me when we visited Istanbul in 2012. Really I think anybody who has read the Chronicles of Narnia has at least heard of this sweet treat that’s been made since the 15th century. I also already knew that most Turkish delight  (also called Lokum) was vegan (especially in the Middle East where many people have specialized diets due to their religious beliefs) so I knew to look forward to vegan candy when we got off the plane. Across the street from the Hagia Sofia we found a mostly vegetarian buffet style restaurant that had a complete candy section to raid and later we found several venders selling it at The Grand Bazaar. The flavors ranged from the commonplace like apricot to the more cryptic like “spice” – which turned out to be a combination of cinnamon and a fruit flavor we guessed from the ingredients was apple.

This recipe is adapted from that Turkish cookbook we got on our trip – you might remember it from the Vegan Meyhane Pilavi (Turkish Bulgur Pilaf) recipe we posted when got back from our trip. The English from Turkish in this book is a little off so we had to experiment a lot with this recipe to get the right gummy-texture while keeping flavor but I think ultimately these little candies turned out pretty awesome. It’s pretty simple but if you have a candy or cooking thermometer – I recommend digging it out for the best results. There are three different flavors to choose from below so I think that should see you through this next storm.

Turkish Delight

Rosewater Lemonade

4 1/2 cups sugar
5 cups water
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/4 cups cornstarch
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 1/2 teaspoons rosewater
2 drops red food coloring (optional)
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
Olive oil cooking spray

Coat a baking pan with cooking spray – if there is any kind of baked on residue on your pan – we recommend first lining your pan with foil and then coating your pan. The foil will also make it easier to handle your candy later when it’s harden so if you’re new to the slow and excruciating detail orientated world of candy making – this might help.

In a saucepan, bring your sugar, 2 cups water, lemon juice and lemon zest to a boil over a medium heat. Use a whisk to blend in your sugar. One your sugar has melted reduce your heat to simmer and remove your whisk. Stir occasionally with a plastic spoon. If you’re using a candy thermometer, you’re going to want to put it in now and watch to make sure your syrup doesn’t get over 220 degrees while you make the second part of your recipe.

While your syrup is forming, whisk together your remaining water, cornstarch and cream of tarter in another saucepan over a medium heat. Continue to whisk your ingredients while it comes to  boil. Make sure there are no lumps. Once you get a thick paste, reduce the heat to a simmer and pour in your syrup.Use your whisk to completely blend the syrup in. It’s important to get all your syrup from the pot, so use a rubber tipped spatula to scrape the pot if you need to.

You’re going to let your liquid candy simmer over a low heat for no more than an hour, while whisking it every 10 minutes to keep it smooth. The longer it cooks, the more thick it’s going to become. Don’t be scared if you’re looking at some yellowy glue. Sounds gross but in the end you’re going to have candy – promise. 

Once you’ve reached that thick gel-ish texture we were talking about, remove from heat and whisk in your rosewater and food coloring. We used an hand held mixer with whisk attachments at this point to get the best result. Once your mixture is light rosy hue, pour it into your coated baking pan and use your rubber tipped spatula to spread your mixture out so it’s smooth and even.

Let sit uncovered overnight or at least 8-10 hours. You’re know it’s ready when you poke your candy and it’s firm. Dab with a paper towel if any liquid has condensed on top over night.

The next day, dust a flat surface with 1/2 of your powdered sugar. Flip your candy onto the powdered sugared surface and then dab with a paper towel to soak up any extra cooking oil. Spread the remaining powdered sugar over the top. Use a large knife coated in cooking spray to cut your candy into the traditional squares or if you’re feeling fancy you can use very small cookie cutters to make shapes.

Then using your hands dredge your Turkish delight pieces in your powdered sugar to completely coat them.  DONE!

Vanilla Pistachio

Same as the recipe above except with the following substitutions:

1 Tablespoon lemon juice with 1 Tablespoon apple juice
2 1/2 teaspoons rosewater with 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

and add :

1/2 cup dry roasted pistachios, shelled and chopped
pinch of pink Himalayan salt

And skip the food coloring all together.

Orange Cinnamon

Same as the recipe for the Rosewater Lemonade Turkish delight but with these substitutions:

1 Tablespoon lemon juice with 1 Tablespoon orange juice with pulp
1 teaspoon lemon zest with 2 teaspoons orange zest
2 1/2 teaspoons rosewater with 1 teaspoon vanilla

and add:

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon oil (this will make them hot – add a little more or less depending on how much you like Hot Tamales candies)

And again the food coloring is optional but if you’re interested – we recommend using 1 drop red and 1 drop yellow to make a sunny orange color.




* I was still a traveling animal rights campaigner in 2006. So it was an incredibly busy year for me. I think I remember counting it out once and I had only been home something like 17 weeks the whole year – I’m pretty sure that was the year I traveled for the entire month of August and half of July. Hence any movie that came out that year was flagged for later.

** If you haven’t seen the 1973 version of Mame with Lucille Ball you’re totally missing out. SO GOOD! I mean watch it for no other reason than seeing Bea Arthur when she was a young hottie.


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