The finest lokum comes from Istanbul, Turkey. The undisputed master of this sweet is a family-run business, established for over 200 years, called Hadji Bakir. Nothing beats the lokum of this establishment and the recipe below is in no way trying to equal or indeed do justice to this most famed (and perhaps most genuine) Turkish delicacy. For hundreds of years, ladies of the Orient indulged themselves with Rahat Lokum while passing their narrow, brief and languorous lives behind laced curtains in thickly carpeted cells.
- Yield: 30 pieces
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 lb (450 g) sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 oz (25 g) gelatine dissolved in 120 ml (4 fl oz) hot water
- ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 tablespoon rosewater
- 3 drops food colouring, e.g. red, gold or yellow
- 1 tablespoon pistachio nuts, halved
- 2 oz (50 g) icing sugar
- 1 oz (25 g) cornflour
- Grease a baking tin about 15 × 15 cm (6 × 6 in) with the butter and set aside. Put the sugar, lemon juice and 300 ml (½ pint) water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Continue to boil until the temperature reaches 121C (250F) on a sugar thermometer. If you do not have a thermometer, drop a little of the syrup into a bowl of cold water. If it has reached the required temperature it will form a hard ball. Remove the pan from the heat and leave for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the dissolved gelatine and vanilla essence and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is well blended. Pour half the mixture into the baking tin. Stir the rosewater and colouring into the remaining mixture and stir well. Sprinkle the halved nuts over the mixture in the tin. Pour the remaining mixture into the tin and set aside in a cool place overnight.
- Sift the icing sugar and cornflour on to a large plate. Turn the lokum out on to a clean board and cut into 2.5 cm (1 in) cubes. Toss the cubes in the sugar mixture and make sure they are thoroughly coated. Shake off excess sugar. Either wrap individually in waxed paper or store in an airtight container.