Rhubarb/Rose Turkish Delight & Rhubarb Cream Cheese Truffles

Anyone following my blog is well aware of my love for rhubarb. I think I’ve tried to use it in every capacity possible. Well, get ready for my next adventure — rhubarb Turkish delight! I refrain from eating a lot of chocolate bars, not that I don’t enjoy them, but seriously –. In Canada, the Nestle company sells a chocolate bar called ‘Big Turk’ for which Turkish delight forms the basic foundation. Of course, I love it!

Just a bit of food history background on the subject first. The Turkish name for the sweet comes from the Arabic rahat-ul hulkum which means ‘soothe or heal the throat’. This was abbreviated to rahat lokum and then lokum. The name ‘Turkish Delight’ was coined in the 18th century to make it easier to pronounce. As an improvement on the original recipe of honey or molasses, a mixture of water, flour, cornstarch and refined beet sugar were used to make a firm, chewy jelly.

Little has changed in the last 240 years. Although there are more than 24 different flavors, the biggest seller that still remains is a plain jelly studded with pistachios. Traditional Middle Eastern flavors include rose-pistachio, orange-blossom walnut, mint and rose-lemon.

Back to the rhubarb. Somewhere in my travels, I came across a recipe for rhubarb truffles that peeked my interest. After more research, I decided why not go right out on a limb and test my skills at making some rhubarb/rose Turkish delight. Actually, the end result was not bad. I have acquired a taste for the use of floral water in baking, Brion, not so much. It has to be used very sparingly or it becomes overpowering. I made three versions: Turkish delight plain or covered in white chocolate and a rhubarb truffle. A bit time consuming but a very unique flavor.

Print Recipe
Rhubarb/Rose Turkish Delights & Chocolates
Instructions
Rhubarb/Rose Turkish Delight
  1. In a saucepan, put 1 1/4 cups water with sugar, rhubarb & lemon juice. Cook over low heat , stirring until sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat a little; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; leave the rhubarb to infuse for 10 minutes, then pass through a sieve, reserving the juice & pulp separately (the pulp can be used in the truffles that follow).
  2. Line a baking dish with cling film (the size will depend on how thick you want your candy) & set aside. In a small dish, blend cornstarch with remaining 1/4 cup water until smooth. In a saucepan, add rhubarb juice, gelatin powder, dissolved cornstarch & heat gently, stirring until gelatin has dissolved, then bring to a rolling boil.
  3. Keep mixture at a steady rolling boil, stirring constantly, for about 12-14 minutes or until syrup reaches a soft ball stage. Cool slightly & then pour mixture into lined baking dish. Allow to cool at room temperature for about 12 hours or until the mixture is set; do not refrigerate.
  4. Once the jelly is set, cut into pieces. Combine 1 Tbsp cornstarch with 2 Tbsp powdered sugar in a bowl, then roll the jellies in this mixture to coat them. Keep jellies in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 3 days; do not refrigerate. If you want to dip some of your jellies as I did, I found using a mini ice cube tray as a mold was helpful. I just set the piece of jelly in each cup & poured the white chocolate over & around it. Can be frozen until needed.
Rhubarb Cream Cheese Truffles
  1. In a double boiler over medium heat, melt 55 grams of white chocolate chunks. Transfer to a bowl; add remaining ingredients EXCEPT milk chocolate & beat with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Cover & chill until solid enough to roll or scoop into balls.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt milk chocolate. drop balls of rhubarb/cream cheese mixture, one at a time, into milk chocolate to coat. Carefully remove onto parchment paper & allow to harden. Can be frozen as well until needed.
Recipe Notes
  • I also tried freezing the plain jellies without putting cornstarch/sugar mixture on them and it worked fine. They were actually nice tasting right out of the freezer.

Sweet Almond Milk Couscous with Dried Fruit & Nuts

Couscous beyond lamb stew — sounds interesting! I never really paid much attention to couscous until we had traveled in the North African country of Morocco.

Traditional couscous is prepared with semolina. However, the name nowadays is used to refer to similar preparations made of different cereals, such as barley, millet, sorghum, rice or corn.

In Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco & Libya couscous is generally served with vegetables, cooked in a spicy broth or stew. However, in other countries, it is eaten more often as a dessert.

Couscous is made of tiny granules of various sizes. Traditional methods of preparing them are very labor intensive. The semolina is sprinkled with water and rolled by hand to form small pellets, sprinkled with dry flour to keep them separate, and then sieved. Any pellets which are too small to be finished granules of couscous and fall through the sieve will be rolled and sprinkled again with dry semolina. This process continues until all the semolina has been formed into tiny granules of couscous, which are then dried in the sun. In Western grocery stores, couscous has been pre-steamed and dried, becoming a quick food, ready in 5 minutes by adding boiling water to it.

The main ingredients found in Moroccan desserts are dried fruits with an assortment of nuts and sesame seeds. Spices such as cinnamon, cloves and cardamom along with orange blossom and rose water give that distinctive Middle Eastern taste. Rose water, a liquid distilled from rose petals with steam, dates back to ancient Greece and Persia. It was brought to Europe via treats like marzipan and Turkish delight in the Middle Ages, then later to the American colonies, where it was the most popular flavor before vanilla hit the market in the late 1800’s.

The key is to use rose water sparingly — a little goes a long way. This dessert is loosely based on ‘Moroccan Seffa’, essentially sweetened couscous sprinkled with rose water. It’s like a blank canvas, there are so many combinations you can create. One of my favorite versions starts with almond milk. You can make almond milk yourself with ground almonds and water or just purchase some in the natural section of the grocery store.

When couscous is cooked in this manner it gains a lovely, not-too-subtle almond flavor that takes to the other spices nicely. Not everyone likes rosewater but a sprinkling of it is ‘exotic’ and well worth trying.

I’ve added just a few more photos taken during our time spent in Morocco.

Print Recipe
Sweet Almond Milk Couscous with Dried Fruit & Nuts
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, bring almond milk, sugar & salt to a boil; add couscous, zest & cardamom. Cover & cook for another minute, then turn off heat & let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. With a fork, fluff couscous & sprinkle with rose water. Add nuts & fruit, gently combining. Serve warm or at room temperature.