Why did my "Turkish Delight" turn into a horrible goopy mess?

  • Why did my "Turkish Delight" turn into a horrible goopy mess? Aaronut

    I don't normally make a lot of confections but decided recently to try a few new things.

    Yesterday I used this recipe for Turkish delight which I originally found on the Hydrocolloid Recipe Collection. It uses agar as the gelling agent and appears relatively easy to prepare (that's why I tried it). Basically you just dissolve some agar in warm water, orange juice, and lemon juice, add sugar, simmer it, then cool and refrigerate to set.

    Unfortunately, what I ended up with after refrigerating overnight was closer to the consistency of jam or marmalade than a Turkish delight. It was far, far from delightful.

    When I prepared this I didn't actually follow the source URL and noticed a few differences that may account for the problem (but I'm not sure, that's why I'm asking):

    • The original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of agar; the one in the collection specifies exactly 1.2 g.
    • The original recipe specifically says to cover with a cloth; the collection recipe is not so specific, it just says to cover (I used plastic wrap).
    • The original recipe says to refrigerate in an ice-water bath; the collection recipe does not (I just put the dish in the fridge).

    Other issues that may have been causes:

    • It turned out that my scale wasn't precise enough to get exactly 1.2 g. The amount I used could have been anywhere between 1 g and 2 g. In retrospect, I wish I had checked the original recipe and simply used the 1/2 teaspoon that it called for.

    • I got the agar from an Asian grocery store, and the packaging clearly said "agar agar", but I did notice that it had two ingredients, the second one (after agar) being vanilla. I'm not sure whether this is normal or whether it might have been diluting the agar mix.

    • I did notice that it did not seem to be gelling at all while it was coming down to room temperature. It was basically a soup until it had been refrigerated.

    Can anyone identify the most likely reason why this didn't work out? Did I use too little agar? Too much? Could some of the differences between the two recipe versions be important? Could it be something I haven't thought of yet?

    And equally importantly for the purposes of this question, can I fix it or am I going to have to throw it out?

  • According to Wikipedia, Turkish delight base is not agar but starch and sugar.

  • I've worked with agar a lot, and made a few things from the HRC. Of all of the things you've identified as possible problems, I think the biggest likely ones are the quantity of agar, and the agar powder itself. Everything else about the cooling issue is normal. Agar powders do vary. You want to find one that is pure, unadulterated agar, not one that is setup to be a pre-prepared dessert as those are weaker.

    If just for a laugh you want to try to save this batch, heat it back up until the agar fully melts, shear in a second amount equal to what you did last night, making sure it fully dissolves, then let it set again. I'm pretty sure that will work.

    You can also pick up a sub-gram scale on Amazon for around $20. Thanks, drug dealers! They are very helpful when making small batches of "molecular" recipes.

  • Well, from what I know, even though your measurements were not accurate or the agar wasn't a hundred percent pure, it should not affect your mixture in such a way . The reason why your turkish delights turned wrong is more likely that you used fruit juice. When using agar agar to make candy or firmer gel bases, it is not recommended to use fruit juice since it contains acids wich makes the agar unable to set properly.

    If you want to make turkish delights with agar, I believe you are better off using flavoring and coloring. I would even say you should use these in any recipe wich involves agar agar,unless otherwise specified. You should also check out agar agar candy,wich is in my belief pretty similar to Turkish delight. Since lokums are more jelly like, you should either not sun dry them or maybe just let them dry a little after they set (that doesn't take a lot of time,only let them cool down and they'll be gel like) to get the consistecy you want.

candy gelling-agents
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