Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Loukoumi Artisan Confections

Last week I wrote about one of the oldest known confections, Jordan Almonds. This week I’ve got a huge array of Lokum, or Turkish Delight in front of me.

Rose Turkish Delight Sweet jellies have been know for at least 500 years in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent. Early versions used honey and other fruit juices as a sweet base. Modern Turkish Delight uses sugar for the most part. But the result is similar. Instead of a firm and gelatinous confection like a true jelly (which has pectin as a thickener) or gummi (which uses gelatin as a thickener), Turkish Delight is a fiendishly simple, relying on a touch of starch and careful cooking to create a semi-solid cube of delicate, sweet flavor.

This is from Loukoumi Artisan Confections based in New Zealand since 1970. They use the traditional recipe for the product and it was absolutely fresh when I got it, so this was a real treat.

Rose Turkish DelightThe first flavor I ever tried of Turkish Delight (which I think I knew as Turkish Paste when I was a kid) was Rose. I find floral flavors to be fresh tasting for the most part, though I know many of us find them a bit soapy.

This rose was a medium pink (kind of alarming, but completely natural). The squares are heavily dusted with powdered sugar, which is the worst thing about Turkish Delight. It’s just not keyboard friendly.

The squares are surprisingly light, not dense and gelatinous, more soft and fleshy like Mochi can be. The texture is more like a soft and smooth paste than a jelly as well. Think of it like a firm honey.

The flavor is rather strong for rose - very straight ahead and traditional, like pushing your whole nose into a bouquet of heavily scented tea roses. But it melts easily on the tongue and doesn’t feel too clingy or cloying.

Manuka Honey & Rainforest Lemon Turkish DelightOne of the flavors that had me most excited when Ross McKenzie of Loukoumi contacted me was the line of Manuka Honey flavors. Manuka is from blossoms of the Tea Tree bush and has a strong balsam & spicy flavor to it. I tried the Manuka Honey & Rainforest Lemon which has aromatic Australian Lemon Myrtle.

I absolutely loved the design of the box on this one. Inside each of the boxes is an inset tray lined with light paper. They were only 250 grams instead of a full pound (I’m often stymied when I find Turkish Delight in prepacked pound boxes - I can’t eat all that!).

Even though the pieces are a delicate golden yellow color, there are no colorings in there, it’s all from the ingredients.

Honey & Lemon Verbena Turkish Delight

It smells like freshly baked lemon cake.

And oh, the flavor.

It feels a bit softer and smoother in the mouth than the Rose (if that’s possible). It’s not a sweet and has an aromatic quality that mixes the mellow honey notes with the light lemon, like a lemon essence or lemon balm.

It’s barely sweet, like a bubble of honey with a touch of zest to it.

I can see how Edmund would sell out his family for something like this.

Pomegranate Turkish DelightThe last flavor I got was one I wasn’t quite sure of from the description. Pomegranate.

All of the Turkish Delight I’ve had to date has been aromatically flavored, that is, it’s all about the scent of the flavor. Lemon, orange or rose, it’s never been juicy or tangy in any way.

This box even looks different from the others, with an extreme close up of luminous beads of pomegranate. It says: The sharp distinctive flavors of the pomegranate complement our soft, rich delight to create a perfectly balanced sweet that will leave your taste buds spellbound.

Pomegranate Turkish DelightThe scent is dark and jammy, like a mix of piping-hot blueberry pie and those raspberry filled shortbread cookies.

The flavor is at first sweet but dark and mellow, then the rich berry flavors come more forward. There’s a little tangy bite to it that really reminds me of a berry jam. It’s a much more intense flavor than the other Turkish Delight varieties here.

Loukoumi makes a wide variety of other flavors, I sampled but a few. They include the traditional array: Almond, Hazelnut, Lemon with Peel, Orange with Peel, Berry, Mint, Vanilla and Lime. And a range of gourmet flavors (many incorporating New Zealand & Australian flavors): Honey & Fig, Honey & Ginger, Honey & Hazelnut, Honey & Quince, Liquorice and Manuka Honey & Blackcurrant.

There are some major and minor issues with these confections. Turkish Delight is notoriously hard to eat. One of the things I like about most candies is that they’re usually pretty easy to portion out and are ready to eat out of the package and require little or no cleanup. I got powdered sugar everywhere trying to eat these out of the box. It’s a little easier when put a few pieces into a small dish and just ate it with it under my chin to catch the poof of powder.

The second issue is humidity. Dampness is not their friend. Luckily Southern California is a great climate to eat these, even when it’s visciously hot. But if they do get a little damp they will get a bit of a crust on the outside, just a bit of graininess. It won’t be great for the texture, but doesn’t impede the flavor.

The third issue is getting a hold of it. Their website isn’t up now, but I’m hoping that soon I’ll be able to tell you about a place here in North America that you can order from (and save the international shipping).

Those issues aside, this is the best Turkish Delight I think I’ve ever had. I am really curious to try many more of the flavors, especially the honey based ones.

This is why we keep traditional methods alive, they work.

UPDATE 2/27/2009: Natural Candy Store is having an insanely good sale on Loukoumi right now. If you’ve been curious to try it, now’s the time to grab some. They even had a custom box of Citrus Mix designed, so you can really get an assortment.

Related Candies

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  3. Nutpatch Nougats
  4. Regennas Clear Toys
  5. Halvah and Turkish Delight
  6. Candy Essay: Turkish Delight
  7. Turkish Delight
Name: Rose, Honey & Lemon Myrtle and Pomegranate Turkish Delight
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Loukoumi Artisan Confections
Place Purchased: samples from Loukoumi
Price: unknown
Size: 250 grams each
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Jelly, New Zealand, All Natural

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:12 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. so the flavors that aren’t rose aren’t soapy tasting? I’ve only had the rose, and I had to spit out the piece I tried it was so soapy, but that lemon one looks goooood

    Comment by mel on 9/09/08 at 2:50 pm #
  2. molly539's avatar

    Have you ever tried “Aplets and Cotlets” from Liberty Orchards in I believe, Washington state?  They are made from apricots and apples.  The company also makes other fruit flavors including cranberry, pineapple, etc.  Some have chopped nuts and others have a chocolate coating, instead of powered sugar. Their website, if you want to check them out is:  http://www.libertyorchards.com/newac.asp.

    Comment by molly539 on 9/09/08 at 3:12 pm #
  3. Cybele's avatar

    Molly - I’ve tried their nut free versions (I’m allergic to the walnuts they put in their classic versions): Fruit Parfaits

    It was nice, but didn’t have the same super-smooth texture that Loukoumi achieves.

    mel - yes, the non-floral flavors are not at all soapy. But the honey does taste like honey (which some folks find soapy because in this case it has a little bit of a lemony essence in it).

    Comment by Cybele on 9/09/08 at 3:19 pm #
  4. I’m not a rose fan, but the other flavors sound amazing.  I can’t wait until the website is posted.  I’ve never really had GOOD Turkish Delight.

    Comment by Karen S. on 9/09/08 at 3:21 pm #
  5. Oh man I love some good Turkish delight! I’m in Australia, surely these must be available since they’re made next door. I’ll have to go hunting :D When will they have a website?

    Comment by Caitlin on 9/09/08 at 3:25 pm #
  6. THIS….is making my mouth water. The only time I had Turkish Delight was when I tried the Fry’s version. To me, that did taste soapy. I do like floral flavors though, like Mashti Malone’s Rose and Lavender flavored ice creams, so I’m not entirely sure that these candies would all taste bad to me. I will definitely be ordering some of these Delights when the site is up and running!

    Comment by Kimberly on 9/10/08 at 7:21 am #
  7. These look gorgeous. I wish I could try them all. I like rose enough that I can accept the soapiness. But Turkish delight is certainly not a treat to eat while wearing dark colors! So messy.

    Comment by KateC on 9/10/08 at 7:29 am #
  8. “I can see how Edmund would sell out his family for something like this.”  LOL.  This site was an amazing find one sloow day at the office last month - trying to prove to a friend that sometimes, rogue Skittles don’t taste like the color they are (a purple Skittle tasting dead-on like an orange Skittle) - and I have been hooked ever since!  I envy your excuse for strange and wonderful candy purchases!!!

    Comment by Laura on 9/10/08 at 8:41 am #
  9. oh… the liquorice sounds so good…

    Comment by perry on 9/10/08 at 10:07 am #
  10. All of the flavors you tried sound amazing! I’m another rose fan (one of the few and proud), and I’m intensely curious about the other flavors.

    Comment by K on 9/11/08 at 5:54 am #
  11. Oh My God. YUM. My favorite kind of Candy. Good Turkish Delight is so hard to find and this one looks delicious.

    Comment by uda on 9/11/08 at 8:17 am #
  12. Wow, until I read this post and the recent one on Jordan almonds, I’d never thought about the fact that two of my all-time favorite candies are some of the very OLDEST candies known to man.  Proves I was a candy eater even in my former life, I guess. 

    Is there ANYWHERE that you know of that sells the Turkish delight locally?  I MUST HAVE SOME! I was almost crying when I read about the honey-lemon.  And the raspberry.  And the pomegranate.  Seriously, my eyes were brimming with tears of longing. 

    And the Jordan almonds…all I can say is that you’ve been going to the wrong weddings!  I love that most people don’t love Jordan almonds because I usually end up with about 6-9 ribbon-tied mesh pouches of them stuffed into my clutch as I depart from a wedding reception.  People just leave them sitting on the table like they’re starlight mints or something.  Can you imagine? But I ain’t complainin’...more for me!

    Comment by joanna on 9/11/08 at 8:49 pm #
  13. LOL Edmund.

    That sounds really good!

    Comment by Rachel B. on 9/15/08 at 9:47 am #
  14. Tricia's avatar

    I’m another one who LOLed at I can see how Edmund would sell out his family for something like this. That description of the honey and lemon version had me drooling!

    But pomegranate…is there some kind of gene (like the one that makes cilantro taste like soap to some people) that causes pomegranate to taste weird? I remember liking the actual fruit as a kid, but all the pomegranate-this and -that leaves me cold. Maybe it’s the processing to turn it into a ‘flavor’?? Anyway, I’d be afraid to try the pom version. Maybe if somebody else bought the box and offered me a single piece (with a promise of lemon & honey as a chaser! :^)

    Comment by Tricia on 9/15/08 at 5:13 pm #
  15. If you want this candy, go to Artisan Sweets. They have it. I haven’t ordered anything from there, yet, but the selection seems pretty good.

    Comment by Meghan on 11/20/08 at 7:59 pm #
  16. Just wanted to add that this brand (Loukoumi) is hands down the best turkish delight I have ever had.  The texture will spoil you for any other boxed type. The rose and the citrus are both outstanding.  True, the powdered sugar will get everywhere, but it is worth the mess!  The flavors melt in your mouth.

    Comment by amy on 9/21/09 at 5:23 pm #
  17. Everything I’ve read on turkish delight says Loukoumi is the best, but where do I buy it? Seems like it was around in 2009…where’d it go??? i’d appreciate any leads wink

    Comment by Caroline on 8/25/12 at 4:20 pm #
  18. trying to find a candy shape like licorice drops but have assortment of jelly like center.  The outer layer is a white coating candy, not mint jelly drops. it is a retro candy from the middle sixties to early 70’s.  I have been searching all kinds of websites, and your’s is the close’s for information.  pls help me.

    Comment by Clemie Miles on 12/26/12 at 10:22 pm #
  19. In response to lots of enquiries we have added an online store to our website - http://www.loukoumi.co.nz  - we have been working on our range of flavours in the past couple of years and while shipping costs internationally are not inexpensive , at least its now possible for people everywhere to enjoy our unique product . Please visit our site look , drool over the flavour choices and perhaps indulge your tastebuds with a purchase .

    Comment by Ross McKenzie on 9/22/13 at 2:26 am #
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