Hawthorn & Rose Turkish Delights

I find this time of year to be a bit like a wave: if you fight it, you go down, most uncomfortably.

Everything is shifting. The air has started to fall. The euphoria of summer has been replaced by what, to some can feel like a vague discomfort, and to others outright melancholia.

Some people don’t have time to feel funny. These are usually the people who get their taxes paid long in advance, who know exactly how they feel about any given issue, and feel comfort in that position. They are the types who, on walking from point A to point B, will actually make it to point B at a predictable time. I’m not one of these people (though I often wish I were), and if you’re feeling funny at this time of year, I’d venture a guess that you’re not one of these people either. We oddballs, on walking from point A to point B will feel a change in the air and stop to observe it. We are the types who notice the way light hits things and the sound of the wind running through things. Honestly, all people have aspects of both, and I think we should be capable of both (and my very odd, point A->B brother would likely argue that paying taxes on time and being odd are not remotely connected), but we often tend towards one or another and, well, for the record I have never done my taxes long in advance. Which brings me back to the fall, and the air, and this time of year in general.

Some people like to say that the ‘veil is thinning’. I think that’s a beautiful and poetic way to describe it. I see it as what is hidden becoming un-hidden; some people talk about the spirit world at this time of year and yes, that has a lot to do with it, but it’s much much more than that too. This is the time of year that we become aware of what’s under the surface. Of what lies just outside our reach and our understanding. And that can be deeply, deeply unsettling. Combine that with the sudden and dramatic reduction of daylight hours, cloudcover, rain and chill. Combine that still with the falling of leaves, the rotting of leaves, and the general direction of everything heading into the ground: everything in the world points towards the one thing we never ever want to think of (death). Yes, those of us who are marching from point A (summer) to point B (the holiday season) are stopping and noticing that orange-yellow light and that slight waviness in the air and thinking ‘wait, what IS that?’. Like a wisp, just beyond our reach, there is a world of mystery out there- things far beyond our comprehension. Not knowing is scary. Not understanding is scary. And like normal human beings we dig our feet in.

Which brings me back to waves. Ride it, my friends, just ride it. Understand that it’s strange, and that everything is falling and that leaves are rotting. Understand what this means for us, too, and everything and everyone we know. Understand that its a part of a cycle, and that we are a very very small part of it. And understand that all we can do as tiny tiny pieces of a big and beautiful picture is to marvel at its intricate and delicate beauty, and if we’re lucky, maybe get to point B.

And as for the journey, hawthorn can help, pretty dramatically. It’s that fear of the unknown combined with a vague sense of melancholy that makes it spectacular. Long heralded as an aid for journeys into faerie land (you know, back in the times when people *ahem* actually believed in these things), it’s that dreaminess that makes it so spectacular during this time of year. You see its already there anyway. It’s like getting to an otherworld party a few hours late and everybody already knows each other and you just feel like standing at the edge of the room smiling at strangers who are all dressed a bit strangely and hoping that somebody comes to talk to you (or maybe hoping that nobody at all comes to talk to you), until a beautiful woman in a red dress and striped stockings separates herself from a large laughing group, sashays over with a mysterious smile, grabs your hand and says ‘come on, I’ll introduce you to everyone.’ Friends, meet Hawthorn.

A note on Turkish delights: There must have been an advert some time before I was born that depicted Turkish delights as something exotic and glamourous. I discovered this one day while hiking with my sister in law, when we found that our mothers both made the exact same facial expression when discussing them. Eyes half closed, gaze somewhere else, posture all of a sudden remniscent of somebody in a genie-costume laying on a chaise-lounge. For some reason this made me ridiculously happy. If anybody knows what this advert is, I’d love to know :).

Hawthorn & Rose Turkish Delights

Makes, well, a lot… any leftovers will be great gifts.

4 cups sugar

4.5 cups strained hawthorn decoction (boil about a cup of hawthorn berries in 5.5 cups water for 20 minutes, until the water is dark- strain. If too much, drink the rest; if not enough just add a bit more water)

2 tsp lemon juice

1 cup cornstarch

1tsp cream of tartar

2 tb rosewater

(2 tsp hawthorn (leaf berry or flower) elixir, if you have it)

(2 tsp rose elixir, if you have it)

extra cornstarch combined with icing/confectioners sugar, for sprinkling and dusting


Combine half the decoction (you can eyeball it) with the sugar and lemon juice, and heat them up in a bit pot, until its at a rolling boil. Boil it continuously for about 3 minutes. If you have a candy thermometer, look for 240, but if not then 3 minutes should suffice nicely.

Meanwhile, add the cornstarch and cream of tartar to the rest of the hawthorn decoction. Whisk it all together until the cornstarch mixture has no lumps left, then heat it up until its boiling. It’ll bubble away and get quite thick.

When the cornstarch mixture is thick like custard, remove from the heat and slowly, steadily, carefully pour the sugar mixture into the cornstarch mixture, whisking continuously (having a helper is good, as is a Kitchen Aid or something similar, so that you can whisk it steadily. If you can’t, no biggie- you might get lumps. And if you get lumps, no biggie- throw it all in the blender for a minute or so). Now you have everything but the rosewater combined in one pot. Put it back on a low heat for an hour, giving it a stir every ten minutes or so. It’ll bubble and get thick. This is good.

Meanwhile, get your molds going. Any kind of square container will do- I used square jar lids (I store rice and polenta in them), but you can use square tupperwares if they’ve a flat bottom or a square baking dish, or, get creative). You can line the dish with plastic wrap, which will make removal much easier (for the record, I did not, as I am lazy, and I had no problems whatsoever). Using a sieve, dust the bottoms and sides of your containers with the cornstarch-icing sugar combination, then leave them to wait.

After an hour, remove your Turkish delights from the heat and stir in the rosewater. Taste it (careful, it’s very hot). It should be very rosy, with a hint of hawthorn. If you have the medicinal elixirs, at this point, add them and stir in- they’ll contribute to the flavour but also ramp up the medicinal quotient to make these sweets very dreamy indeed. If you don’t, it’s not a big deal, they’ll still be delicious and the hawthorn and rose combination will still be there. Pour the hot mixture into the molds, about 3/4 inch high. Smooth the surfaces, then place them in the fridge, uncovered, to cool.

When cool, turn them out onto a cornstarch/icing sugared countertop, and slice into cubes. Or rectangles. Dust them all with the cornstarch/icing sugar. They’ll keep in airtight containers for weeks, but I bet they won’t last that long…

(I’ve shared this post at the Wild Things Roundup over at Hunger and Thirst. Check it out here.)

  • http://TheFamilyHerbalist.com Natalie

    These sound absolutely lovely…just like the tales you weave :) Thanks

    • fairybekk

      Thanks Natalie!

  • http://www.alpinegypsy.com Heidi (AlpineGypsy)

    Oh dear. You are a marvelous writer, REALLY!

    Your prose makes me feel funny inside. In a nice way. All of what you say about this time of year is true. So much to think about, if you let your brain run – I do indeed feel the ‘thin’ starting to make itself known.

    I can’t WAIT to try these. All I know about Turkish Delight is that the kids in ‘The Lion, Witch & the Wardrobe’ seemed to relish them, and that was enough for me. :)

    I’ve recently just started school to become a Library Technician, so I’ve had very little time to breathe lately, let alone indulge in the culinary arts. But your writing about food and Nature keep me burning the midnight oil, hunched over my books.

    Thank you~


    • fairybekk

      Oh Heidi I do so enjoy your comments :). Good luck in school! xo

  • http://www.ThreeAunties.org Maria Minno

    In “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” (one of those books) it’s the food that the White Queen used to enchant Edward and turn him into a slave who’d do anything for her if she’d give him a little bit more Turkish Delight.

  • Dena

    Thanks for the recipe… I’ve never used Hawthorn berries. That would be interesting.
    A note on the font and font size on this page… it was very difficult for me to read. I zoomed in the page, to 125% but still had troubles. I actually googled facric land, because I couldn’t tell it said faerie land. (I have good eyesight, I don’t usually have issues reading websites)

  • Vinosoul

    Thank you for a beautiful narrative and recipe. That’s exactly how I feel this time of year!

  • http://www.AuburnMeadowFarm.com Jackie @Auburn Meadow Farm

    I love your blog – really beautiful and so very interesting! Thanks for sharing all this great stuff…

    I’m perpetually looking for some way of making peace with all the hateful hawthorne trees on my farm – this might just win me over : )

  • http://www.consciusvita.com Barb Meza

    Oh this sounds so decadent and dreamy. Tell me please, do you think agar agar could replace the cornstarch? I have not yet worked with it, but have it. I am allergic to corn.

    • fairybekk

      I don’t see why not, Barbara, and if its a fail, it’ll be a hawthorn-rose flavoured fail; you could probably throw it into a bottle of vodka and have the most amazing liqueur…

      Let me know how it goes?

  • http://www.kenalbala.blogspot.com Ken Albala

    What a perfectly delightful post. I want to go do it right now. So glad I found this blog! (You posted on my absinthe post last week) Do let’s talk further. Ken

  • Christine

    Thank you so much for reminding me of raha lokoum. It may be that I can return the favor: an obscure, old brand of this candy, from the town of Cashmere, once had an advertising image such as you describe. They are called Aplets, for the apple flavor, and you can see the picture on Saveur Magazine’s site, which is where I read about them in the first place.

  • Mary Ann

    We had really great Turkish Delights in England when my father was sent there. Good quality soft jelly candies are so wonderful. The rose essence is what puts Turkish Delights over the top, however. I was young at the time but always remember thinking “what is THAT taste on the tip of my tongue, that tastes like a flower?”. When I finally discovered it was rose it was an ah ha moment. The dusting of confectioner’s sugar was great too, getting all over your fingers and your nose at times. I completely see why Edward was so tempted by them — and why you and your sister-in-law’s mother’s used those same expressions describing them… They’re utter bliss!

  • Ivriniel

    Well now, this has me intrigued.

    My Mom is a “Haw-Eater”, which means someone from Manitoulin Island (Ontario, Canada) but the only thing I’ve ever seen haws used for is jelly.

  • http://www.adventures-in-cooking.com/ Eva

    Just discovered your blog and absolutely love it. So many beautiful and interesting recipes. This sounds wonderful, and I am really excited about your pomegranate molasses post! There is a tree in my neighborhood that is producing and I’m happy to have found a new way to preserve them.

  • http://mamarosemary.com Angela

    I keep coming back to this post. I think I have to make these! I think I have to make them now. Seems like a perfect holiday gift to boot.
    Thank you for all the lovely inspiration on your site.

  • http://www.ThaiMassageBoulder.com Kim

    Oh my, these sound magically delightful… wish I had found this post in time for Christmas gift inspiration!

  • Pingback: (Materia medica) Crataegus spp: Sweet, Tender & Tough as Nails()

  • Pingback: 15 Delightfuly Delicious Turkish Delights Or Lokum()