Can you be nostalgic for something that you have never experienced? A time, a place, a flavor, a love? As I child I forever had my nose in a book. I loved whisking away to whatever world that was being shaped by those letters and pages. I could live, walk, feel, and taste with those characters. Maybe I became acutely aware of this phantom nostalgia phenomenon when I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I was transfixed the moment the White Witch lured Edmund with her enchanted Turkish Delight. Truth be told, I have no idea if I had ever had Turkish Delight before I shared in the adventures of the Pevensie children in Narnia. But C.S. Lewis’s ethereal narrative had me as enchanted as poor Edmund.
Naturally, as an adult now, I try to indulge these memories when I can. As one does. And foraged wild rose petals and juicy rose hips marry in magical ways with this Wild Rose Turkish Delight.
On reality versus fantasy
Lately, I am feeling the urge to suspend my disbelief, to escape into fantasy. A lot, actually. Not only have I the urge to dive into fantastic works of fiction while cozied up with tea and blanket by the fire, but the feeling extends to my very real world too. Our children are growing up before my eyes – faster than I can comprehend. Our oldest children are making college and career plans as they roll through their final high school years. Even our youngest, at the gentle age of four, seems to be seeing the world with maturity beyond her years.
But, me – I am still a bookish young girl, gathering bits of this and that in the forest, quiet with my thoughts – right?. How can this be so? The reality of growth, aging, and mortality is heavy and thick, but my instinct is to add more fantasy and whimsy into our life. Because I need the levity.
Turkish Delight with Foraged Rose Hips and Petal
Wild Rose Turkish Delights are a truly magical treat. One can easily see why Edmund would be so captivated by a mere candy. Soft, sweet and otherworldly. I layered rose hips, rose petals, and rose water in this recipe ensuring that each and every bite of this Turkish Delight sparkled with the ethereal rose flavor. I prepared a decoction of fresh rose hips, in which I also steeped dried wild rose petals while cooling. During the latter stages of preparation, I added rose water in order to preserve its delicate aromatics. The resulting confection boasts a rosy glow and deep, enchanting rose flavor. An addition of pistachios is a traditional, but not altogether necessary ingredient if you are nut adverse.
Perhaps my Wild Rose Turkish Delights won’t whisk you away to Narnia, but I promise they taste of wonder and amazement. When the realities of our modern world are too harsh, I, for one, will be retreating into nostalgia and fantasy for a much needed escape.
Wild Rose Turkish Delight Recipe
- 5 cups water
- 1 cup fresh rose hips (or ½ cup dried rose hips)
- 1 cup dried rose petals
- 4 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 tablespoons rosewater
- ½ cup coarsely chopped pistachios (optional)
- To make rose hip decoction, bring water and rose hips to a low boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove from heat and add rose petals, stirring to combine (the petals only nee to steep for a few minutes until the color and aromatics have diffused into the rose hip decoction).
- Strain rose decoction into a large pyrex liquid measuring cup. It should measure four cups. Add more water or pour out to adjust accordingly.
- Add 2 cups of rose decoction, lemon juice, and sugar to a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and continue to heat without stirring until the sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer (adjusting heat on burner to keep the mixture from bubbling over or burning). Remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, mix remaining rose decoction, corn starch and cream of tartar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium high heat until mixture becomes extremely thick and almost paste like. Remove from heat.
- Once the sugar mixture and the cornstarch mixture are ready, carefully combine the two in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or by careful whisking the two together. CAUTION: The sugar mixture will be very hot. If your mixture remains lumpy, pulse it in a blender until the mixture is smooth.
- Prepare a 13×9 baking dish by lightly greasing with butter or coconut oil, lining with plastic warp, then grease plastic wrap as well. Then sift one tablespoon cornstarch and one tablespoon powdered sugar into baking dish, rotating dish to spread powder throughout pan. Set aside.
- Return mixture to a heavy bottomed, medium saucepan. Over low to medium heat, continue to cook this mixture for 1.5-2 hours, stirring frequently. Carefully monitor temperature to ensure the candy does not scorch. The mixture will become very thick and almost stiff. As the mixture reaches this point, you will need to stir constantly to prevent it from burning. It is ready when a spoon drawn through the bottom of the pan separates the mixture and spoonful of mixture dropped in ice water remains very firm and holds its shape. At this point add the rose water and optional pistachios. You may need to cook the mixture just a little longer to drive off the moisture introduced by the rose water.
- Remove from heat and pour into prepared dish. Smooth with a silicone spatula and pat into corners as the mixture will not likely spread very easily if you have cooked it long enough. Cool at room temperature for one hour, and then chill in refrigerator for at least another hour. Cut into squares and roll in equal parts cornstarch and powdered sugar that have been sifted together. IF, at this point, the candy is too soft to hold its shape return to saucepan and cook until until the mixture is stiffer, testing in ice water again.
- Store in an airtight container in cool, dry place to avoid candies sticking together.