Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Foods From Fiction: Turkish Delight & Raspberry Cordial

After our last post about fictional foods and the lively discussion that followed in the comments (we MUST read these Redwall books), a very nice editor from Penguin emailed and told us about this very charming book they published in 2010 on the very subject of fanciful foods from literature.

Among the many adorable recipes and games the book provided, we found a recipe for Turkish Delight and another for Raspberry Cordial, and decided to set about making our youthful food-related dreams come true. Except that Turkish Delight is, as it turns out, a radioactive rose-flavored nightmare.

Katie: I generally don’t cook anything with more than three components, so it was lucky that Emily is basically a professional chef (i.e. someone who has a spice rack) and had 98% of the necessary ingredients already. I supplied an 8 x 8 pan, raspberries, and food coloring.

Emily: Yes, it’s true that I had more than one jar of Cream of Tartar, but that is one of those things you need so infrequently that it’s hard to remember if you really do have it. Then you go shopping for stuff to make Snickerdoodles and decide to just buy the extra jar so you aren’t S.O.L. in terms of C.O.T., which would be SO EMBARRASSING. I really just wanted an excuse to use my new Babushka measuring cups:


Katie: First we’re going to talk about the raspberry cordial, because it was much easier to prepare. At least it seemed easier. I didn’t really touch it, I took a hands-off approach with the cordial. As you will come to see, my hands were full with a pot full of beeswax masquerading as Turkish Delight.

Emily: The cordial was essentially raspberries steeped in simple syrup and then strained through a cheesecloth (or potato ricer in our case, because I was fresh out of cheesecloth. Again, so embarrassing), so as to remove all the pesky seeds. Then you are supposed to cool the syrup and add it to seltzer water. We were on a schedule, so we drank it kind of... tepid. But it was, as Diana Barry would say, “awfully nice.”

Cordial-drinking ladies. You can’t tell really but please note that my (Katie’s) nails are GALAXY NAILS.

Katie: Maybe it was because we tried it after the Turkish Delight, but the raspberry cordial was GOOD. Too warm? Yes. Too sweet? Yes. But it reminded me of other things I’ve appreciated having in my mouth, food-wise, which is more than I can say for the Delight. This isn’t sanctioned by the book, but Emily and I feel that a little vodka mixed in with the cordial and seltzer would go a long way. Or maybe just a glass of vodka with a splash of seltzer and cordial. Or just a glass of vodka with some cordial off to the side, for the pleasing color. Who knows!

Katie: So, Turkish Delight. This process generally involves boiling two separate pans of various forms of sugar and then throwing them together, which you would think would be awesome. I had reign over the pan of cornstarch, cream of tartar, and water (above), which Emily aptly described as “looking like something a food stylist would use to represent mashed potatoes.” It was also a little like Oobleck, and impossible to stir.

Emily: It’s true. I started to feel a little bad for inviting Katie over and making her do cooking-related circuit training. I had the task of making the looser of the two sugar concoctions, which Katie kept telling me I had to get to something called “soft-ball stage” and which I kept imagining as “softball stage” as in, “stir until mixture forms one large softball-sized ball” which never happened.

Katie: We got a little bit frantic about the soft-ball stage (would we ever get there? Had we missed it somehow? WHERE WERE THE SOFT BALLS?!), so we went ahead and poured the syrup into the slime pot and stirred it together anyway, and boy was that gross.

Emily: Once combined, this mixture popped and oozed and made gasping, geyser-type noises not unlike ones that came from the Bog of Eternal Stench from Labyrinth.

Katie: Yeah, it was...angry. Right about then, I noticed that there was a fairly important recipe direction that I had overlooked: the one that read “Allow to stand overnight at room temperature.” Though we briefly contemplated a raspberry cordial-fueled sleepover, we decided we’d improvise and throw the pan into the freezer. It turns out that as far as Turkish Delight goes, 10 minutes in a freezer will neither substantially improve nor worsen the thing you’ve decided to eat for unknown reasons. It will be harder, but only barely.

Emily: At this point, before we flavored it with rosewater (the recipe says!), we decided we should probably take a taste of this mixture. “Looks almost exactly like Vaseline,” I said. “Or some sort of homemade hair product,” said Katie. It smelled vaguely of corn, which was puzzling. Katie declared that it tasted better than it looked, though that wasn’t saying much. I thought it tasted kind of like nothingness and that cleanup was going to be a real bitch-a-rooney-dooney.

Too much! Too much!

Katie: I was the designated food-color-adder, and I took to my job with zeal. Too much, actually. Emily told me I could stop, but I couldn’t. I wanted to make sure it was red enough. Food coloring never looks like anything, but then you mix it. And then our Turkish Delight glowed, like the sickly evil gelatinous poison that it was. Then Emily threw in the rosewater, to add a nice grandmotherly soap twist, and we were “done.”

Emily: It said to finish with powdered sugar which seemed like a good idea, presentation-wise, but totally unnecessary sweets-wise. Edmund must have had to get serious dental work done.

Weiss and Heaney give it two red-stained thumbs down.

Katie: I hate it. I hate it so much. The amount I bit off couldn’t have been any bigger than a fingernail, but it was potent. It tasted like corn plus rose plus sugar. Rosecorn is a flavor that should not be aspired to. Plus, it was strangely and mysteriously heavy. This is another recipe note that I overlooked: the 8 x 8 batch you end up with weighs three pounds. To be honest, it felt like more — heavier than my five-pound lady weights, for sure. I sort of wanted a picture of us eating it, but neither of us could bring ourselves to put it in our mouths again.

Emily: For a minute I considered bringing in the remainder of the bars to work, but I have a reputation to uphold. Instead, I just left the plate on my dining room table and didn’t budge it even an inch for close to a week. It remained unchanged and unamused.

Objects in picture may be heavier than they appear, ha, ha.

In summary:

Things Turkish Delight Looks Like:

- Vaseline

- Lush bath bar

- A human being’s insides

- A lemon bar injected with blood

Things Turkish Delight Doesn’t Look Like:

- Food

Things To Do With Turkish Delight Instead Of Eating It:

- Build a bomb, maybe (?)

- Home insulation

- Put it in your hair, see what happens

- Throw it at the house of someone you dislike

Ways Turkish Delight Should Make You Feel, But Doesn’t

- Like a previously-mummified princess being breathed back to life in the desert.

Should a queen ever offer you any of this stuff, don’t take it. Don’t leave your family for it. They will never forgive you, and you will never forgive yourself.

None of this is to knock the recipe, which might be magically 1,000 times better if only kept overnight (though we doubt it), or the book, which is adorable and full of other great and surely tastier recipes. Next time we think we might pick something safer, like a nice chocolate cake.

Emily Weiss and Katie Heaney want to thank Penguin Books for their generous gift and David McCrindle for documenting our experience in photos.

99 Comments / Post A Comment


On the other hand, I bet rosewater-flavored pâtes de fruits would be delicious and much better, texture-wise. Challenge?

Matthew Lawrence@twitter

I tried making Turkish delight once, as a teenager, and got basically the same results, but I thought it was because the recipe I had required a candy thermometer and all my mom had was a meat thermometer and meat totally skeeved me out and so I tried to guess when the right temperature was. But I guess it might be kind of dumb to make yourself no matter what.


Oh God, the soft-ball stage. I made fudge (or tried to) basically every Friday my sophomore and senior years, and never quite was able to judge that. I ended up ditching the cup of cold water and relying on the candy thermometer and hope.


@Cawendaw Oh man, I make fudge in the microwave! Chocolate! Evaporated milk! Some other ingredients that I don't remember! Don't be messing with a candy thermometer, it's just fudge.


@Cawendaw I just did this last night! 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 can evaporated milk, half a stick of buttter. Microwave on medium until melted. Add crushed Heath Bars OR WHATEVER FILLING YOU WANT (e.g., peppermint for the holidays!). Refrigerate. Done done done. No soft-ball nonsense.


@Cawendaw Best, easiest fudge recipe EVER:

3 cups* chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
dash of salt
teaspoon of vanilla
nuts, dried fruit, etc as desired

Melt chocolate chips and milk in a pan (or a bowl in the microwave) stirring regularly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla (along with nuts, dried fruit, etc). Place in a foil-lined pan (I usually use an 8x8) and refrigerate. Chop into chunks and impress everyone.

I've made it with peanut butter chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and mint chocolate chips, but the best (in my opinion) is semisweet with pecans-- it's nice and rich, but not too sweet...

*I'm not 100% sure of the measurements (am away from my binder o' recipes, but I'll try to remember to post any corrections this afternoon)


One day I will own a candy thermometer. One day.

Katie Scarlett

@gobblegirl I felt the same way until only last week when I happened upon a candy thermometer in that cooking paraphrenalia aisle of CVS. "$3.99? Why the fuck not?" I thought. I'm hoping to test it with some homemade caramel soon.


@Katie Scarlett Making homemade caramel is amazing and wonderful, but also terrifying at first. Just know that it is good either way: if you under cook it, it can be caramel sauce, and if you overcook it, it's kind of burnt caramel, which is amazing on its own. Open all the windows first, though, and disable your fire alarm if it's sensitive.

Katie Scarlett

@thebestjasmine Those are good tips! If I screw up, I'm definitely gonna pretend that it was all on purpose.

Lydia Dietrich@facebook

@gobblegirl: good god, woman! Candy thermometers can be found at discount stores like Big Lots! I've even seen them sold at stores like Dollar Tree, where it was *gasp* a dollar!


Turkish delight is one of the best foods there is. I tried to make it in college. It turned into a pile of slime that absorbed all of the powdered sugar that I added.

If you want the good stuff, you have to get it at a Greek festival. But don't call it "Turkish delight" or they will KILL you.


@Lamorak Yeah, I had it at some monastery in Greece once and it was, okay, which is the best I'll give that stuff. But, the Greeks! I really loved watching how they try sooo hard to prove they're not Turks.


@boysplz there is also some killer turkish delight in the Istambul airport. There are, like, a hundredy-thousand kinds of the stuff, and they have a bowl of little samples on each kind, so that if you have a 6-hour layover in Istambul and your debit card doesn't work anywhere and you haven't eaten since 3am, you can totally make a (delicious) meal out of it. I'm guessing.

The Lady of Shalott

omg, you guys are so adorable. Please invite me over for foods-from-fiction making times! We can make all the delicious foods from the Anne books! Followed by all the delicious foods from the Little House books! Come on, please? I will bring my awesome flattenable strainer!


@The Lady of Shalott I still dream of one day pouring maple sugar on snow in squiggles to make candy! And I would even roast a pig's tail on a stick. Maybe it was the Ingalls' occasional starvation, but all of the food descriptions in the Little House books make me salivate.


@gangey You can totally do the maple-sugar thing with dark maple syrup (although it's more like a sno-cone than candy, unless it's wicked cold out, and even then it's sort of slushy). Molasses works way better, though, and is equally delicious.


@gangey http://www.amazon.com/Little-House-Cookbook-Frontier-Ingalls/dp/0064460908/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1318363637&sr=8-1

Do it.


@Lamorak Yes!!! I want to do this too! I'm maybe (definitely) rereading all of the Little House books now after taking the Hairpin hint and reading "The Wilder Life." (http://thehairpin.com/2011/04/wendy-mcclure-goes-back-to-the-little-house-on-the-prairie)


@gangey They had the maple sugar on snow thing at Nuit Blanche (an all-night street festival) in Montreal a few years ago and it was amazing!

Streetcar Party

@gangey And then you could make a balloon out of the pig bladder.

Beck Rea@facebook

@The Lady of Shalott , @Gangey: "Farmer Boy" slays me in terms of appetite--my God, the FOOD in that book!


@gangey My mom claims that we did the maple sugar thing when we were kids but I can't remember doing it. Not fair!


Awww I like Turkish delight but I think it might be one of those things that you just can't homemake. Anyway, that's my theory and I'm sticking to it.


@annepersand: Yes, all the Turkish delight I've ever eaten must have been conjured by the White Witch and enchanted because it's been awesome and completely unslimy.

(The enchanted part would totally explain some past fuck-ups.)


Katie I have that awesome owl ring too! He says hello and that he wishes my nails were galaxy nails.


Katie, your shirt is the exact same pattern as my high school kilt, and now I'm all sentimental.


Your daily Russian lesson:

Babushka = Grandmother
Matryoshka = Russian nesting doll (plural form: matryoshki)

This has been a public service announcement from your friendly, neighborhood Russian major!


@SarahDances: They could've been babushka matryoshki if they looked a bit older. Either way they are ochin' khoroshi.


You can buy turkish delight you know!
But I am not really into food that tastes like flowers (not even that jasmine tea, yuck!), so I knew I would not like it.


@Megan Patterson@facebook You can get some that tastes like lemon, too. Possibly other things.


@Saaoirse The lemon flavored Turkish delight is much much easier to eat. I think rose is a flavor you have to grow into, or it's better as an after-taste, or something? Lemon is easier all around.


@Lucienne I've always loved rose as a flavour, but I can also see why someone wouldn't. A lot of people just don't seem to see it as being a thing food should taste like, what with its associations with soap and so on.


@Saaoirse I lovelovelove rose flavored lots of things, and sometimes I think about rose Turkish delight and it makes me happy. Actually eating it is different, but then I react mostly to texture in food. The powdered sugar may be what makes me go :( though. It's been a while


This is fabulous. More, please, from the two adorable maybe-food-makers. "WHAT UP LADIES???" is what I vow to yell every evening before making chicken pot pie or whatever. Just to my regular measuring cups because I don't have cute ones, and in fact don't have a 1/3 cup at all and have to fake it with a 1/4 cup and a couple of tablespoons.

Katie Scarlett

@figwiggin I just broke my 1/4 cup and have to fake it by using my 1/3 cup MINUS a couple of tablespoons!


@Katie Scarlett If you ever need to be more precise, just use four tablespoons. Pow!


What, that's not a recipe for real raspberry cordial because yours is booze-free and Diana Barry got wasted on it. DRUNK FIDDLESTICKS! As I mentioned on the earlier thread, I read Anne of Green Gables frequently as a child, and Diana Barry was the only character I encountered with my name. As a happily functioning alcoholic I've long looked forward to the day when I can fulfill my literary destiny. If anybody has the real stuff, can you bring it to the San Francisco pin-up? I'll buy you a shot of Qream.


@Diana Ah, but that's because what they thought was raspberry cordial was actually current wine. Is there a recipe for current wine in the book? If not, it does seem like adding vodka to the raspberry cordial is faithful to the spirit of the episode.


@pointy There is someone here on the Hairpin who was making sloe gin, but I can't remember who. This seems like it would also work well as a cocktail mixer for that?


@pointy: And then you must drink 2 big tumblersfull. (sp?)



That sound you hear echoing in the distance is the world's heaviest forehead slap! Currant wine sounds delicious, too, and I don't believe I've ever seen any of that either.


@Diana Right? Although I would think it would taste very different from raspberry sugar water.

@Bittersweet I always liked how Marilla tried to take the heat off Anne (and herself for making the currant wine) by pointing out that Diana was hella greedy.

Hot Doom

@pointy I would definitely be that greedy, too. She had 3 tumblersfull.
But, y'know. It was the demon liquor's fault.


My mom's best friend brought some Turkish Delight FROM TURKEY one year when I was a kid, and despite my initial nerdglee I was vaguely disappointed by the taste. I thought to myself "Huh, Edmund this is what made you turn evil? It would have taken something more impressive to make me betray my siblings and an entire society of innocent talking animals. Like, licorice maybe."

Nicole Cliffe

I would have done it for a talking animal who would live with me and be my friend. For serious, they could have just assigned me one of the talking dogs, and I'd be all "heeeeere's my grumpy brother and lame sisters!"


@ingrid.tuesday To be fair, it was wartime. I don't think it took much when candy scarcity was a thing.

Katie Scarlett

@ingrid.tuesday I remember reading the book as a child and craving Turkish Delight SO BADLY even though I'd never even tried it. I always pictured it with lots of chocolate and caramel, I think. The in high school when our city got a World Market, I saw a bar of it for sale in the candy section and when I read "with Rosewater!" on the package and took a whiff of it, I new I'd only be disappointed and vowed never to try it. "Delight" my ass.


@Katie Scarlett It's irony, Alanis-style.


@ingrid.tuesday YES! Our 4th grade teacher brought in a box after we finished reading the book, and there is nothing sadder than a classroom-full of disappointed 4th graders, exclaiming, "Why would you choose this? Why not WARHEADS?"


@Katie Scarlett I thought it was something like a Heath bar, crunchy and delicious. I won some at an Irish fair, of all places, as a door prize and was sooooo excited, until my sister and I tasted it and realized it was rose flavored solidified jello covered in hamster chocolate. I promptly dropped dead of disappointment.


@Katie Scarlett I always thought it was chocolate too and was so disappointed when I discovered the truth. Like when Anne finds out that diamonds don't actually look like amethysts.


I tried to warn you :(

Next up: fried worms?


This is so great, if only for the fond memories of Anne of Green Gables it prompted. Also now I MUST HAVE GALAXY NAILS.

Katie Heaney

@janedonuts You must, seriously they are the greatest.


turkish delight is def weird but part of the problem i think is the huge brownie sized pieces you seem to have cut them in. a little bit goes a long way man.


@itsureiswindy oh no. We ate like a teeny, amuse bouche sized slivers each and then I still had this WHOLE PAN that needed to be photographed so I cut it into slabs that looked akin to guest bathroom soaps. We are so not knockin T. Delight in general, or this recipe specifically, it just turned out weird. On account of us.


Y'all, no. Turkish delight is the best, but the key is to get it from a tiny sweet shop in a back alley in Istanbul and never, ever attempt making it yourself.


@annierebekah It IS the best! There is a big Turkish population in Berlin and it is very easy to lay hands on the real stuff here, and OMNOMNOMNOM it is so delicious.


@annierebekah like, say, at Altan Sekerleme?


@meliz girl, YES. Never knew why tourists make such a big hoo-rah about the Grand Bazaar when everything outside of it is so much more abundant and delicious and CHEAP.


Okay, BUT! The actual real-stuff Turkish Delight that comes from Turkey is truly delightful. And delicious. And, it is nothing like the translucent, gelatiny stuff we get around here. i.e. not Aplets & Cotlets. The true kind that I have had so generously brought back from actual Turkey for me is like fancy petit fours. Opaque, dusted with powdered sugar or coconut, topped with one pistachio, lightly scented of rose, or vanilla, or, yeah, pistachio, in lovely, girly pastel shades, in charming, old-fashioned candy boxes. Sigh. Slightly chewy, melt-in-your-mouth, and, if not worthy of selling out your family for, at least capable of providing a moment of empathy for Edmund.



Why would you even bring up Aplets and Cotlets. The Hairpin is a sacred place that doesn't need to be defined by the mention of such foul iniquity.


@dilettante That sounds lovely.


You are completely right. I swear I didn't mean to sully the sacred atmosphere. Those things have ruined my Christmasses for decades. Blerg.

oh, disaster

I need Babushka measuring cups. Not want, neeeeeed.

Valley Girl

@andrea disaster Fred Flare Matryoshkas

I want to appoint my entire kitchen and home in Fred Flare.

oh, disaster

@Valley Girl Gracias!


Jane Brocket, the author of this book, is the best and she has a delightful blog.

Also, Turkish Delight is actually good when it is the pistachio kind.


Oh man, I wish I lived near you guys so I could come on one of these adventures too... I made molasses on snow candy from the Little House books, searched for years (in vain, since I lived in Maine) for red bean paste so I could make moon cakes for the Chinese Fall Festival after reading "In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson", and made "marmelade rolls, and sausage tarts (afraid I got a little mixed up)" like in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I will also admit to a bit of underwhelming when it came to my first actual taste of Turkish delight. Among other book-food-related adventures over the years.


Let's pretend that Turkish Delight is baklava, can we? It's sticky (per the book), Turkish (well --) and delightful. That is what I imagined it was as a child and baklava will never let you down.


@queenofbithynia it was only yesterday that i realized there is a difference between baklavas and balaclavas.

Ada (or Ardor)

My long and ignominious career as a Redwall fanfic author is directly responsible for my foodieism. Also responsible for my desire to kick many people in the face, because boy skippy there are a lot of creepy conservatives in that fandom?

But FOOD!!!!!!!

Valley Girl

Ugh, sugar stages :(((( I've been getting into canning so I've been thwarted by those a few times lately.


@Valley Girl Stick with pickles - no sugar stages, and the will not do you wrong!


okay, i'm PRETTY sure that while perusing the tiny library back in middle school, I came across a Redwall cookbook. turns out i'm totally right. (GOOGLE IT!!!)

also, you should watch the Dutch(?) film Turkish Delight. you might hate it, you might love it (personally, I love it) and real, delicious-looking Turkish Delight makes an appearance near the end.

you're a kitty!

Yep this is the stuff you want, it's legit worth betraying your family for.



I've had Turkish Turkish delight, and it just wasn't that great. That made me hate Edmund even more.


Doesn't Diana get wasted in the book? I always assumed cordial was alcoholic :/ Okay I Googled it, the book probably had the "medicinal" tonic kind of cordial, which was in fact alcoholic and eventually became a liqueur. Your version sounds better though.

Beck Rea@facebook

@Charlotte: She does! But it's because she drank Currant Wine and not the Raspberry Cordial--Marilla got the bottles mixed up. Poor Anne! Poor Diana! :)


The food in the Redwall books! They somehow convince you that eating acorns is a really awesome idea, but it is not.


i am a confirmed half-turk and have been eating the pistachio kind of turkish delight my whole life. it's super awesome. the rose kind is gross, though. i don't like things that taste like flowers.

Jill of the North


This is a link to a really well done Turkish Delight. You need a lot of equipment, time, patience and probably experience with making candy to boot - it's very much an exact science rather than something you can eyeball. But, if you wanted to try it again, this looks like a much better recipe to follow.


haha, I had a Turkish delight candy bar (probably the kind in the video) when I went to New Zealand, and you are correct, I think I ate about one small bite, got grossed out, then made all my friends try it.


Turkish Delight, rose or otherwise, is my very favorite thing. I guess maybe it's an acquired taste. But it is the most delicious in the world. Try the kind with pistachio!


I've been longing for Bubble & Squeak after the last column like this. (I just learned that the pub right next door to where I work/go to class serves it, but last time I was there their ovens were out of order!)


I have those measuring cups!
When i was a kid my family lived in the UK and I used to get these: http://www.englishteastore.com/sumichtudero.html. I thought they were the bees knees!

Steven Knoerr@facebook

As I Twittered on my account, 39Steeps: "RT @tea_austen: I tried Turkish Delight, and it was not quite as enchanting as C. S. Lewis led me to believe. LEWIS LIED, TASTEBUDS DIED."


I eagerly await your review of plum puffs.


My heart jumped when I read you made Diana Barry's raspberry cordial, because when I was a wee girl of 7 or 8, my Nana bought me the Anne of Green Gables COOKBOOK. Yup. I still have it somewhere in my parents' house. It's pretty big, since it includes recipes for foods in all of the Anne books, and they were always cooking something or eating an old-fashioned treat.
Each recipe is accompanied by a quotation from the part of the book that inspired it, which was perfect for the giant-nerd-Anne-fangirl I once was.


I have been wanting those babushka measuring cups for years! Years, I tell you! So jealous that you actually have them. Also, I wasn't aware that cordial even had non-alcoholic uses. Like, people just drink it on its own? Hrmm....


If you like ginger, and ever see this ginger delight by The Ginger People in a store, buy it. Buy all that they have. It's so soft, and just the right amount of ginger spice.

Megan Sith@twitter

When I was younger I had the Roald Dahl cookbook, which was awesome and not only contained the recipe for the chocolatiest of chocolate cakes to ever grace this earth, but also recipes for marshmallow pillows, edible wall paper and hot ice cream. HOT ICECREAM!


There is someone here on the Hairpin who was making sloe gin, but I can't remember who.


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