Recipe Corner

We all need to let off steam after a hard day’s work. A few days ago, I did this by writing some ill-advised work fanfic. At the weekend, I finally got round to baking, which is another good de-stresser. The thing is, I was baking something that’s becoming a bit of an annual tradition chez Clay. It’s the second time I’ve attempted it. And it’s epic. Brace yourselves.

October in Peru is the month of the Lord of Miracles. It involves dressing in purple, carting an icon around and hoping for good luck in whatever you’re undertaking. Oh, and turrón. I came across the recipe for turrón de doña pepa by accident last year, when all that was sustaining me beyond cheap mulled wine was streaming Eurovision qualifiers or splinter groups thereof. (Seriously, throat music from a country I know nothing about with heart-stopping scenery? Yes please.)

For this somewhat grand foodstuff, you will need:

4 tablespoons anise seeds
4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup margarine
5 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon anise extract
1 apple
1 lime
1 orange
7 oz bag of prunes
3 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons cloves
1 teaspoon whole allspice (optional)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon treacle

(Yes, it’s in Americanese. Fortunately, a good pal sent me a set of US measuring cups. They’re not hard to find.)

First, get the anise seeds from their husks. Remember that last year, you swore to buy pre-shelled ones. An hour later, wave your bloodied stumps of fingers at the piffling amount of seeds you get from a massive cheap bag of anise.



Pour half a cup of boiling water over a tablespoon of seeds and leave to cool. You might want to put a playlist on. 6Music have been playing a lot of this album lately. You might get so distracted by the music you fail to toast the rest of the anise in a warm oven. Oh well.

Wait, is that band really called The (St. Thomas) Pepper Smelter? Yes!

Fling flour, baking powder, salt , anise seeds, a tablespoon of sugar, and fat into a food processor and blitz until it’s sandy. At this point realise you have no anise extract, but you do own a small bottle of Ouzo from a trip to Corfu years back. You are a genius.

Well, it's made of anise, yeah?

Well, it’s made of anise, yeah?

Sling it in with the eggs, vanilla and anise water until you have dough.

Full of aniseed goodness!

Full of aniseed goodness!

Pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes while you do the syrup. Oh, the syrup. This basically elevates turrón from average dessert to ‘your dentist just died of shock’. To 3 1/2 cups of water add the spices and fruit. This was where I failed at having the right fruit, but it turned out that a combination of lime, pear, dried apricots and home-grown rhubarb was absolutely gorgeous. Whatever you use, your kitchen will smell of Christmas, and you should eat the fruit afterwards because it’s divine.



Cook gently until your apple/pear is translucent, then take it off the heat and strain the liquid for later.

*buries face in fruit*

*buries face in fruit*

Now get rolling the dough. You want strips half an inch thick and 8 inches long. (Yes, all my cookbooks are old and Imperial, why’d you ask?). You will always need n+1 baking trays. You get a LOT of sticks from this dough. The dough also goes a bit wiggly. This is where your engineer-brained husband turns up with a pair of knives and straightens them. Bless.

Husband: 'Are you sure that will be enough'

Husband: ‘Are you sure that will be enough?’

Bake for about half an hour at 170 degrees C until golden. Or, if you have a teeny tiny new house oven, start a desperate rota system of stacking trays on top of other trays and playing Tetris with them in the racks. When they’re done, let them cool and finish the syrup.

Add the sugar and treacle; the traditional recipe calls for chancaca but then my Peruvian recipe book also once called for a whole baby goat for a stew and we can’t always have the things we want in life. So, treacle. This is the part that takes the longest. Anything involving a sugar thermometer will never heat quickly while you’re standing next to it…

I'll just nip next door and see who's howling on X Factor...

I’ll just nip next door and see who’s howling on X Factor…

It needs to hit 240 degrees F. *twiddles thumbs* So, watch any Mysterious Cities of Gold recently? My husband introduced it to me months ago. My favourite part is the mandatory documentary at the end where they show National Geographic nudity, sacrifices and explain what gits the Spaniards were and how indigenous people are still oppressed. Life is hard, children. GOODBYE, UNTIL NEXT TIME.

Syrup still not done? Maybe there’s time for a telenovela. I recommend La Impostora, Avenida Brasil and Doña Bárbara. Go forth and Youtube. The plots are all the same. You’ll probably just be getting engrossed with one and then…



Once it’s done, take it off the heat and summon your glamourous assistant, who will help by chopping your cookie Jenga in half and making it into a tower of sugary goodness.

Not pictured: set square and protractor.

Not pictured: set square and protractor.

Every time you make a row of cookies, pour some syrup over them, and fill any gaps with crumbs. Now the true majesty of the turrón is becoming clear.

I want to lick the pot but I will be scalded :(

I want to lick the pot but I will be scalded 😦

Pour lots of syrup on the top layer, then get every sprinkle and piece of candy in the house and tip them onto the thing. I had candy corn and sparkly sugar going spare. This was seriously lacking in sugar, wasn’t it?



While it cools, why not edit your novel? You may have been drinking during the long process of making this dessert, and you might have made some ill-advised IKEA purchases earlier in the day, but that won’t matter, right?

What's that, Mr Sizzle? You find my imagery lacking? YOU'RE FIRED.

What’s that, Mr Sizzle? You find my imagery lacking? YOU’RE FIRED.

Is it done yet? Why yes, yes it is.


*cries with joy*

You should only have a tiny slice of it, because it’s super-sweet. You’ll thank me later.

So fruity. So spicy. Why are my jaws glued together?

So fruity. So spicy. Why are my jaws glued together?

This should hopefully sustain me through a few weeks of hardcore editing and provide me with the required amount of syrupy, spicy good luck the novel needs. Time will tell.


One thought on “Recipe Corner

  1. Pingback: NaNoWriMo 2015: Plot Harder | Writings from Otherworld

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