What’s up Hungry People, today we are going through the Wardrobe to explore the magical world of Narnia.
I’ve always wondered what Turkish delights tasted like since I first read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe as a kid, and even more so since the movies came out when I was in high school.
So today I am determined to recreate one of the most iconic treats from the Chronicles of Narnia: Turkish Delights.
In the story, the White Witch uses Turkish Delights to tempt Edmund, one of the four Pevensie children, into tricking the rest of his siblings into returning to the mysterious world behind the Wardrobe.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe feature film came out in 2005 – right at the peak of the fantasy genre dominating not only the box office but the book store as well. Even my own highschool couldn’t escape the frenzy of fantastical tales and ended up adapting the screenplay into a theatre performance in which I got to play… Mr. Tumnus.
And yes, I time traveled all the way back to 2008 to procure those images.
So to say that the Chronicles of Narnia has always held a near and dear spot in my heart in an understatement – so much so that when a TikTok request came in to recreate these fictional treats, I just about jumped off my couch to make them.
What Are Turkish Delights??
Turkish delights are a gummy treat that originated (perhaps unsurprisingly) in Turkey. Made from a gel made from sugar and starch, Turkish delights have a texture somewhere between gumdrops and Jell-O.
While you might think Turkish delights would be overbearingly sweet due to their high sugar content, the stach added in really mellows out the flavor and allows the citric acid and extract flavors to be the star.
Traditionally, Turkish delights are made from lokum. The lokum is made by heating together sugar syrup and a cornstarch slurry mixture until thickened in a gel. This gel is then flavored – usually with a flavor like rosewater – and sometimes has add ins like pistacchios or walnuts (but those are totally optional and are not seen in the actual Turkish delights from the movie). I used this recipe for inspiration to make a more simple take on the lokum making process.
Making Turkish Delights from Scratch
Turkish delights are quite simple to make as long as you have patience!
- sugar + water – to create a syrupy base for the lokum
- cornstarch slurry – to thicken and solidify the turkish delights
- rosewater extract – totally optional! Use your preferred flavor of extract, rosewater is just the flavor used in the movie
- red gel food coloring – using gel food coloring will give you a darker color over liquid drops
- powdered sugar – for dredging the Turkish delights
The Thermometer, the Pot and the Setting Method
I also recommend having a candy themometer handy so you can accurately read the temperature of the mixture as you are cooking.
Getting the temperature just right – the soft ball sugar stage – is the MOST IMPORTANT step in making Turkish delights. If the mixture isn’t hot enough, it won’t set up at all. And if it’s too hot, you’ll end up with a hard, crystallized candy.
You’ll also want to use a heavy/thick bottomed pot to make the lokum. This will help with getting a consistent temperature in your lokum.
Finally, you’ll also probably want a second set of hands to help scoop the Turkish delights into the setting dish. The lokum can be very sticky and heavy, so it’s best done with two hands.
I don’t recommend setting your Turkish delights in the fridge. The lokum will cool and set at room temperture. If you put the Turkish delights in the fridge to set, the lokum will begin to “sweat” and the powdered sugar will absorb into the candy rather than stick to it long term.
When the lokum has set, after 5-10 hours at room temperature, the top can be dusted with cornstarch and then sliced into bite sized pieces. From there, just dredge the Turkish delight pieces in powered sugar and store in an airtight container with more powdered sugar on top.
Turkish Delights from The Chronicles of Narnia
- 4 cups white sugar
- 1 ½ cups water for sugar
- ½ teaspoon citric acid
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 cups + 10 teaspoons water for slurry
- 1 teaspoon rosewater extract or flavored extract of choice (fruit punch, raspberry, pomegranate, orange, etc.)
- 1 teaspoon red food coloring gel or your preferred color (green, purple, orange, etc.)
- In a heavy pot over medium high heat, combine the sugar, citric acid and water. Whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring the sugar mix to a rolling bubbling and simmer until it reaches 250°F (use a candy thermometer to confirm even temperature) or the soft ball stage of sugar. The liquid should start to appear syrupy. This could take about 15-30 minutes depending on your stove's heat output. Do not stir – this will introduce air and bubbles and will cool the sugar.
- Meanwhile, in a large jar, mix together the water and cornstarch to create a slurry. Shake vigorously until the cornstarch is completely mixed in and the water is cloudy. If you set the jar down, shake vigorously to re-mix.
- Very slowly pour the slurry into the syrup. The liquid may bubble so make sure to pour in an even, slow stream while whisking constantly. The liquid should begin to turn into a clumpy gel. Stir continously until the gel reaches the thickness of petroleum jelly – about 5-6 minutes.
- Continue to stir the lokum every 8-10 minutes to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cook until the lokum reaches a medium light shade of amber, about 45-60 minutes.
- Prepare a 9×9 dish by spraying lightly with cooking oil then line the dish with parchment. Set aside.
- When the lokum is a light golden color, remove from the heat and stir in the red gel food coloring and the flavoring extract. Stir well to combine, scraping the sides and bottom of the pot as your go.
- Pour the lokum into the prepared 9×9 dish. Spread into an even layer then set at room temperature for 5-10 hours. The lokum will firm up as it sets. Do NOT set up in the fridge or the lokum will "sweat" and melt the powdered sugar.
- Dust a cutting board with cornstarch. In a 9×13 baking dish, spread an even, thick layer of powdered sugar for dredging the Turkish delights. When the lokum has firmed up, lift it from the dish, carefully flip it onto the prepared cutting board and remove the parchment.
- Dust the top of the lokum with cornstarch. Cut into individual, bite-sized pieces (about 25-50 pieces depending on size). Dredge each piece in the powdered sugar tray. Coat the Turkish delights completely with powdered sugar. Serve right away and enjoy!
- Store the Turkish delights in a airtight container that is filled with powdered sugar and cornstarch (about 2:1 ratio). Bury the Turkish delights in the powdered sugar while storing. Eat all of the Turkish delights within 72 hours – they are best fresh!