I work in the development department at Boston University, preparing the gift officers, deans and even the president for their fundraising trips. They travel all over the world reconnecting with alumni who are interested in supporting the school. Oftentimes, when an overseas trip is taken, someone will bring back a sweet treat from abroad. In the fall, some kind soul brought back dates from Saudi Arabia. Stuffed with tahini, sometimes nuts, and sometimes toasted sesame seeds, they were so good, I would find myself stopping by that department for an after-lunch treat. At some point, the administrators got so used to seeing me for my afternoon date that they offered the entire box to me. I couldn’t say no.
Most recently, someone went abroad and brought back a box of Turkish Delight. They actually brought the box directly to my office; saving me the daily trips. I felt a little like I was in Narnia, being plied with the candy by the White Witch, but I’m not complaining. I would end my lunch with a chewy cube of rosewater and pistachios. I was in heaven.
Luckily for me, none of my co-workers shared my delight in the Turkish Delight. I overheard a conversation between a few co-workers who did not enjoy the candies and were about the toss the half-eaten box in the garbage until I jumped up from my desk and grabbed the box from their hands.
As it happens, the recipe I have here is a pantry recipe — or at least my pantry. I scored a one pound bag of pistachios for $3 at Ocean State Job Lot months ago. Rich was skeptical as to the quantity, but they are a wonderful partner to beets, and, as any fan of Turkish Delight will tell you, rosewater. If you don’t have rosewater in the house, I strongly encourage you to head down to a Middle Eastern store in your area. I purchased mine at one of the great Armenian stores on Mt. Auburn Street in Watertown. While you’re there, definitely pick up some orange blossom water and pomegranate molasses. They’ll all be on the same shelf. All three should set you back about $10, and most recipes will only call for a teaspoon or so; you’ll get at least 25 servings from each bottle.
The rosewater is soft and muted in this dish, just a little tease of a faraway land with each nutty bite.
Turkish Delight Ice Cream
With help from the Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book and Barron’s The Joy of Ice Cream by Matthew Klein, and my $25 ice cream maker I found on Craig’s List.
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon rosewater
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pistachios, chilled in the freezer at least as long as ice cream is churning
Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Pour in the cream and milk and whisk to blend. Add the vanilla extract and rosewater and stir briefly.
Transfer mixture to your ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. At 20 minutes (or about 5 minutes before the ice cream is finished churning) slowly add the cup of pistachios, about a 1/4 cup at a time. Transfer the ice cream to a container and freeze for at least two hours.