Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Legend has it that in his endeavor to cope with all his mistresses, a Turkish Sultan summoned all his confectionery experts and ordered them to produce a unique dessert to add to the collection of secret recipes for which he was famous. As a result of extensive research Lokum was born.
In 1776, during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid I, Bekir Effendi, a fully apprenticed confectioner, arrived in Istanbul from a small town in Anatolia. Bekir set up in a little shop in the center of the city. Hadji Bekir was the Willy Wonka of his day and among a people with such a sweet tooth as the Turks, he quickly won fame and fortune. Fashionable ladies began giving Turkish delight to their friends in special lace handkerchiefs. These were also used as acts of courting between couples, as documentated in traditional Turkish love songs of that era. Thus gifted with energy, enterprise and originality, he was appointed Chief Confectioner to the Ottoman Court.
The celebrated Hadji Bekir was also painted by the Italian artist Preziosi, which now hangs in the Louvre. It depicts the venerable bearded and turbaned confectioner weighing for a wealthy veiled lady, with two children and a cat looking on.
Lokum was unveiled to the west in the 19th century. During his travels to Istanbul, an unknown British traveler became very fond of the Turkish delicacies, purchased cases of lokum and he shipped them to Britain under the name Turkish Delight.
The long name for the sweet is rahat lokum. The etymology of the word lokum has puzzled linguists for many years; it seems to be a corruption of a Turanian word meaning morsel. Rahat is a Turkish word, meaning peace or contentment, therefore the correct translation is a morsel of contentment. So, the English traveler who dubbed it delight was not far off.
The History of lokum dates back to 500 years, making it one of the oldest sweets in the world. A part of Turkish culture for centuries, the recipe has remained virtually unchanged from its inception.
Lokum is made from starch and sugar. A main ingredient is rosewater, although some are made with lemon. Some recipes include small nut pieces, usually pistachio, hazelnut or almonds. This dessert is highly valued by children.
- 2 c sugar
- 2 tb cornstarch
- 1 c water
- 1/2 ts cream of tartar
- 2 tb rosewater (if unavailable, substitute 1/2 ts rose food flavoring)
- 1/2 c chopped toasted pistachios or almonds (optional)
- confectioner's sugar or desiccated coconut for dusting
Stir sugar, cornstarch and cream of tartar into water and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add rosewater and (optionally) chopped nuts. Apply non-stick cooking spray to form (ice cube trays will do nicely) or shallow pie pan and pour mixture. When cool, release from form or cut into cubes as applicable and roll each piece in powdered sugar.
Store at room temperature in airtight container.
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