Fictional food always makes me hungry. When I read a good book, I become engrossed in the story, relating to the hero (or heroine), so that when they sit down to a meal in a Mexican restaurant, the description of warm plates filled with gooey, melty cheese and the smell of fresh tortillas fried in sizzling lard gives me the urge to leap up and make a plate of nachos. But what I eat is never as good as it sounds in the book.
One fictional food that has intrigued me since childhood is in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. One of the boys, Edmund, has met the evil witch and with a drop of her magical potion in the snow she makes Turkish Delight, a sweet, sticky, utterly addictive confection. I always wondered what this delightful treat looked and tasted like. Then one day I found a recipe in The Joy of Cooking for Turkish Delight and, naturally, had to try it.
It is sweet, sticky, and hard to resist. Something like a fruit jelly candy, but with nuts, and rolled in powdered sugar. Yumm. Joy has two different methods for making it. I've made it with pectin, which turned out well, but is a bit pricey, considering the amount of liquid pectin needed. This year I noticed that the second method calls for gelatin, which I happen to have in abundance for spur of the moment marshmallow making. I also had some raspberries from the freezer which had thawed into an unattractive lump of mush. I decided to use their juice and my Turkish Delight turned out so pretty, like sparkling raspberry jewels in the snow! I'm confident Edmund could not have resisted it.
adapted from The Joy of Cooking
Raspberry juice, simmered over low heat and reduced to 1/3 cup
2 Tbsp cold water
1 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
Grated rind of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp gelatin
2/3 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Lightly oil an 8 x 8 inch pan. Scatter the chopped nuts in the bottom.
Combine the first five ingredients in a glass measuring cup and let stand at least 5 minutes.
Place the water and sugar in a large heavy pan over moderate heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. When the solution starts to boil, cover and boil 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and cook without stirring to the soft-ball stage, 234 deg. F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and add the gelatin mixture. Return to heat and stir until thermometer registers 224 deg. F.
Pour the mixture over the nuts in the pan. Let stand for 12 hours. When the mixture is very firm dust it with the confectioners' sugar.
Cut into squares by pressing down with a buttered or sugared knife. Dust a work surface or baking sheet with confectioners' sugar and turn the candies onto it, turning the candies so that all sides are coated. If you plan on packing these candies, let them stand sugared 12 hours or more on a rack. Redust on all sides and pack, then store tightly covered.
**Another interesting discovery I made was that a popular local confection, Aplets and Cotlets, is actually Turkish Delight. At the turn of the century two Armenian young men emigrated to the United States and bought an apple orchard in Cashmere, Washington. Apples grew well there and when they had a surplus on their hands they decided to recreate the candy of their childhood, Rahat Locoum, also known as Turkish Delight. Aplets and Cotlets, made from apples and apricots, are very popular and we always buy a box at Christmastime then have wars about who gets the last piece.