RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Three-Ingredient Cocktails

Also: a cautionary tale in Turkish Delight.
Publish date:
March 24, 2015
xoFood, cocktails, candy, literature, Recipe Of The Week

When one talks about food in works of fiction, one will inevitably end up discussing Turkish Delight, that infamous dessert with a reputation too big for its own good. Who among us wasn't enticed as a child by the description of a candy so delicious you couldn't help but run off with a witch? And who among us was not disappointed when we finally tasted the powder sugar-coated confection?

You know who can eff off into the sea? Edmund Pevensie. He can sail away on a boat with his stupid Turkish Delight and his stupid — most likely powdered sugar-covered — face.

What kind of kid betrays everyone he holds dear for rose-scented candy? I love a rose-scented confection now, but at ten years old, I doubt I would have betrayed my sisters for Turkish Delight. A Chaco Taco? Maybe. But definitely not Turkish Delight.


Welcome back to Recipe of the Week. Last week we discussed food in literature and — as you can probably guess — the most up-voted recipe/comment was about Turkish Delight.

Now, I realize that M.M. wasn't exactly advocating that I make Turkish Delight, but it was the most up-voted and everyone seemed to have a lot of feelings about the confection. Also I had never made it before, and I was curious if a homemade version would change my mind about the rose-scented candy. Perhaps the White Witch had a killer recipe.

Since there weren't spelled-out instructions in the comment, I did what anyone else would do and found some on the internet. I went with "Non-Evil Turkish Delight" from The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook, even though I found the title a bit suspicious. Advertising that your Turkish Delight is "non-evil" is a bit like naming your second-hand car dealership "Honest Abe's Not-Shitty Cars."

Anyway. It's a fairly long and involved recipe, so instead of copy and pasting around 600 words, it's probably easiest for you to just click over to Epicurious if you are indeed inclined to try your hand at this devilish dessert.

So how did it turn out?

Not great.

Look. I'm no expert candy maker. I'm pretty good at marshmallows and I've finally found my preferred method of tempering chocolate, but I don't do a ton of candy making because it usually stresses me out. It's like all those lengthy organic chemistry labs that relied on precise measuring and monitoring and tricky end points that you could miss by blinking.

As you can see from this sampling of Tweets, making Turkish Delight was slightly stressful, but not overly so.

Other than a minor burn, the candy making process went pretty smoothly. I read the instructions twice before starting and used my candy thermometer and nothing boiled over so I assumed I was golden. I scooped the gloppy mixture out of the pot and let it sit overnight to firm up.

But it did not firm up. According to the recipe, one is supposed to be able to slice the candy into squares. I was not able to achieve this. No matter how long I let it "set" (it ended up being over twelve hours) it never made it to the "slicable" stage.

As you can see from the first photo, I ended up scooping the mixture out of the pan and rolling it into little balls. I thought it was going to work for a while, but then the bowl of balls turned into a bowl of one big blob. (This wouldn't be a huge deal, except there was like eight bucks worth of pistachios in there, which I had shelled by hand.)

So that was a bust — more like Turkish Disaster, am I right? — and the candy in question is still sitting in my kitchen while I decide its fate.

ANYWAY. M.M. still gets a trophy. I did this to myself. At no point did she suggest I actually make the stuff and it did make for some fine entertainment (failure usually does).

Your trophy M.M. is "The Hardest Walk" by The Jesus and Mary Chain from the album Psychocandy because how appropriate is that? (Side note: Do you think the The Jesus and Mary Chain would have used an ampersand if they had formed in 2015 instead of 1983?)

Who needs a drink?

If I had a vodka (or a sense of humor about my failures) I would make a Turkish Delight Martini, brought to my attention by the lovely Grushenka.

Besides garnishes, it's actually a pretty simply cocktail with only three ingredients. According to Peggy Olson, that is the bare minimum number of ingredients required for a cocktail, though I'm not sure where she got that number.

Living in Portland, I have no shortage of places at which to buy fancy and complicated cocktails, but sometimes I long for something simpler. Most of the classics only have three ingredients anyway. A Manhattan is just rye, bitters, and vermouth. A Dirty Martini is just gin, brine, and vermouth. Three-ingredient cocktails prove that you don't need to complicate an adult beverage with syrups and garnishes for it to be good and that sometimes simple is better. (Plus if you have really good spirits, you wanna let 'em sing.)

So this week, I want your best, most creative three-ingredient cocktail recipes. It can be an old classic, but I'd love to read some original recipes with odd ingredients, the weirder the better. I feel like you guys will really thrive with this challenge, but mainly this is just an excuse for me to re-stock my bar.