Cooking, Sweet treats
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A Little Fun with the Microwave: Gooseberry and Elderflower Turkish Delight

Gooseberries for Gooseberry and Elderflower Turkish Delight

It has been a peculiar summer for me. Some extreme highs where wonderful things have happened, and some lows where things that I have wanted have felt just out of my reach. I needed to take a little time out from everything and rest my head for a while, while I figured things out. What I do next, what I can do and what I want to do.

I, of course, love what I do and at times this is a problem. I jump from idea to idea and project to project, taking on too much and wanting to do everything all of the time, exhausting myself in the process. So, it was time to focus and make decisions.

In the meantime, I have found myself craving the food that I cooked and loved in my childhood. Seeking a little balance and reconnecting to the person that I was before and, of course, that I still am. This has coincided with an enormous spring clean where I have rediscovered so many things that I had forgotten about. All in the process of attempting to let the whole lot go. It has been a curious time.

I have unusually wanted lots of sweet things like lemon meringue pie, swiss roll and chocolate éclairs, staples of my childhood cooking repertoire. Savoury things like shepherd’s pie (which I have been playing around with lots) and quiche. One thing I really wanted to make was Turkish delight, and to make it in the microwave too.

Odd? Well, not as odd as you would think. When I was a wee ‘un, my mother was gifted with an enormous microwave, which seemed like the most amazing thing in the world to me. She used to buy me Microwave Know How weekly, a crazy little magazine which I would devour, and make the most improbable and sickly sweet microwave meringues and Turkish delight too.

The memories of this always made me giggle, and then a couple of years ago, I spied the most fantastic piece from food writer extraordinaire Harold McGee, extolling the virtues of microwave Turkish delight in The New York Times. It has always been at the back of my mind that I should make it, and with my flatmate about to move out and possibly the microwave too, I thought that I should rediscover my childhood joy and do it.

Gooseberry & Elderflower Turkish Delight

It was fun to do it again, and with great results, although it is a bit fiddly. I adapted the recipe, instead of making Harold’s saffron version, I made mine with gooseberry and elderflower, making a compote first.

I grew up eating lots of gooseberries straight off the bush in my aunt’s garden and also in an abandoned fruit orchard up the road. Their sourness suits my palate well and they are great as a sweet and savoury ingredient. For me they are always summer, wandering around aimless as a child with a full endless day, plucking them randomly from sour to super sweet and ready to burst on the bush. They bring back many fond memories.

They are perfect for this Turkish delight as they cut deliciously through the intense sweetness. If you haven’t had them – and from twitter it seems like a lot of you haven’t – seek them out.

Note on the recipe: as it is a US recipe, it was in cups. I have translated to metric for you and included the original cup measurements too.

Making Gooseberry & Elderflower Turkish Delight

Recipe adapted from Harold McGee at The New York Times.

Recipe: Gooseberry & Elderflower Turkish Delight


3/4 cups + 1/2 cup / 115g + 75g cornflour, plus more for dusting
600ml water
3 cups / 600g sugar
1/4 cup / 60ml golden syrup
juice of half a lemon
Cooking oil, for greasing pan
1/2 cup / 50g icing sugar
200g green gooseberries, topped and tailed
2 tbsp elderflower cordial (mine was homemade but you can buy it too)


First, make your compote by topping, tailing and halving the gooseberries, then stewing with a couple of tablespoons of water until they burst. Add the elderflower and taste – you may want to add more depending on how strong your cordial is. Pass the mixture through a sieve so that you only leave the skins and seeds behind, leaving a lovely puree in the bowl.

Pour the water into a glass bowl. Slowly whisk in the 115g cornflour until smooth. Transfer to the microwave and cook on high power for 2 minutes. Carefully remove and stir with a heat-resistant spatula. Return to the microwave and heat for 1 minute at a time, stirring between until the mixture thickens, bubbles and becomes translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes. Then heat on half power for 3 minutes.

Mix in the sugar and golden syrup. Heat on high power for 5 minutes. Stir and repeat, then stir and repeat again. After the last time, stir in the lemon juice and the elderflower and gooseberry compote.

Continue to heat on high power for 3-minute periods, stirring in between, until a little syrup scraped onto the edge of a cold plate quickly sets to a tacky solid, from 12 to 21 minutes.

Grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with cooking oil and scrape
and spread the mixture into it. Allow to rest, uncovered, until it is firm enough to handle, several hours or overnight.

Dust the top with cornflour. Invert onto a small cutting board, using a spatula if needed, and dust the other side with cornflour. Transfer the board to the freezer for 30 minutes.

Cut into 3/4-inch squares with scissors or a knife.
Combine the remaining 75g cornflour and the icing sugar, and toss the squares in it. Store the Turkish delight in this mixture in a wide, shallow container.




  1. So glad you’re not a snob about the microwave! I don’t use mine a lot but am very glad I have it especially when it’s too hot to turn on the oven.

  2. Ben says

    This is great! I got to boarding school and im always on the prowl for great microwave recipes that I can make when im there. Made paprika and sea salt crisps last week!

  3. Turkish delight always makes me think of The Chronicles of Narnia. Yours looks fantastic, and I think it’s very interesting that you did this in the microwave. Do you think that the cooking process for the gooseberries can be the same if I used raspberries?

    • Hi there! I do have a raspberry and rose version too :) Raspberries are more delicate so would need little time but essentially the same.

  4. I’ve never even tasted an elderberry, and sadly until I checked out this post, I had no idea what they looked like. Good post!

  5. Working London Mummy (@workinglonmummy) says

    this looks truly delicious. I love turkish delight and this looks like an interesting twist! will have to try

  6. Interesting idea for a recipe, I love Turkish Delight and it’s been too long since I last made some.
    When I was a kid in Birmingham, we used to call gooseberries…goosegogs, how about the kids in Ireland? And goosegogs makes me long for my mum’s gooseberry crumble and a dollop of clotted cream. Back then you saw them in all of the greengrocers, but around the late 80’s they fell out of fashion. Thankfully, they are coming back into the shops little by little but my guess is they are easy to buy in London?
    Love your blog
    Kevin Ashton
    Chef & Food Writer

  7. Glorious! Have returned to London and discovered I need a new flat- boo- though the silver lining is that the new one now comes with a microwave. I think this is one of the first things to be tested in it. Hoping the rest of the summer brings you only good things. x

  8. well from where I’m sitting you seem to be doing incredibly well, be proud! This is cool that this recipe is Vegetarian friendly, i.e.. no gelatine. I’m going to try this, though unfortunately we don’t have the Mike so I’m thinking either to run down to Argos, or do it on the stove-top. What do you think? ; )

    • Thanks Adam :) Very kind. I am of course, but it can all be a bit draining at times. I need to give myself more structure and time off. You can absolutely do it on the hob. It doesn’t need gelatine as getting the sugar to soft ball stage is what sets the Turkish delight. I plan to post a recipe for it on the hob soon too.

  9. Thank you for sharing this recipe Niamh – my other half loves Turkish Delight but has struggled to make it successfully. Just one question – what wattage is high power on your microwave?

  10. You’re pretty much an angel of food – Thanks for sharing this one :) Gooseberries are such underused things so it’s really nice to see a recipe using them – I’ll try it out as soon as I get home :)


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  12. I remember my nanny’s gooseberry bush at the bottom of the garden, I used to go down there and eat them straight from the bush, an unwise move you might think, they were incredibly sour, but also incredibly moreish. You have such an emotional attachment to food which is endearing, your mother obviously encouraged you with food, and I have to say so did mine. My relationship with my mother is defunct null and void, I haven’t spoken to her for over 8 years and she has been responsible for some horrible atrocities in the family. The one and only thing I can thank her for is showing me how to cook from a young age. It makes me sad sometimes when I see people take food and family for granted, shoving the next greasy burger down there chops without a thought, and arguing about how much of a pain there mum and dad are when really they have no idea how lucky they are. Food and family go hand in hand, and this recipe has come from that, it’s deeply personal and I suspect evoked flashbacks from your childhood whilst you were making it. A lovely piece. Sorry I went off track a bit there…I do that a lot, keep doing what your doing :)

    • Hi Adam. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Sorry to hear about your relationship with your mother. These things are very difficult. My mother wasn’t a great cook but she allowed me to pursue it and really my aunt Kay in Cork, who had the gooseberry bush, is the one who first started me cooking :)

  13. Dear Niamh our favourite foodie
    This recipe made us weak
    Weak that is, with excitement
    And left us unable to speak

    Which is why we’re writing this poem
    To put in words how we feel
    About your microwaved miracle
    That made our office squeal

    Your travels make us jealous
    We loved your trip to France
    And when you went to Argentina
    It made us want to dance

    Now you may know us as Bosch
    The home appliances supplier
    But we’re so much more than that
    “What’s that?” we hear you enquire…

    We’re actually never far away
    In that we’re in the products you use
    We’re in your food processor
    And in the wine coolers

    We may also be in your oven
    And your dryer making your clothes swirl
    We’re in household appliances that
    Are used by EatLikeAGirl

    But we bet you weren’t aware that
    When you went to Lima during Happy Hour
    We were in the whirring components
    That blended your Pisco Sour

    We too adore Claudia Roden
    and her icecream made with sherry
    Even with all the raisins
    We’re left feeling quite merry

    So as you make your wine filled icecream
    And devour it by the pound
    Keep one eye on the things around you
    Because Bosch is All Around (

    Hope you enjoyed that (come on over and say hello on Facebook or Twitter)! – Facebook – Twitter

Over to you! Your comments - I would love to hear from you :)