Samak wa-Aqras

(Hard Almond Candy)

Translation:

A  pound of and a half of sugar; half a pound of peeled almonds, pounded fine and flavoured with a little musk.  Take half a pound of bees’ honey and put it in a cauldron with an ounce of rose-water until it boils.  Skim it, then take an ounce of starch and dissolve it with rose-water and put it on the honey, and stir awhile until it gets its consistency.  Then throw the pounded sugar and almonds on it, and beat it hard with a poker until it thickens.  Then take it down from the fire and leave it on a smooth tile until it cools, and make it into fishes and cakes and other shapes in carved moulds.  Sprinkle them with finely pounded sugar and pistachios.  Colour the fishes with a little saffron dissolved in rose-water, and take it up.

(Rodinson, pp. 459)

Ingredients:

1 ½ lbs sugar                ½ lb ground almonds                ½ lb honey       1/8- ¼ tsp rosewater

½ C sesame oil (optional mistake)

Redaction:

All the ingredients gathered in one place.  For candies and quick dishes, it’s always a good idea to have everything right by the stove and ready to go in the amounts you want.


If you will notice that I have saffron, cinnamon and turmeric at the bottom.  These were to color the candies at the final stage.  However due to the dark amber color the colors would not have shown through so I deleted the coloring step and these spices were not needed.  Please feel free to experiment coloring with spices or vegetable juices.  The caveat is that coloring in period with spices i.e. turmeric or cinnamon would usually change the flavor to inedible due to the amount of spice needed to color a candy.

I actually did this a little differently then the directions here.  I did not skim the honey as the honey I have is purified already with out any inclusions such as wax or bee parts.  So I mixed the honey and the sugar together.

Then I added oil (this is the accidental addition that is not prescribed in the recipe) and rose water.

Now here, I added sesame oil the first time (by mistake).  I was channeling the ingredients from a slightly different recipe when doing this redaction very early in the morning.  You can omit the sesame oil with out any worries! I am just adding this oops! as a this is what I did and the dessert came out pretty tasty still type of thing.

Once the honey sugar and oil were well mixed (I used a wooden spoon instead of a poker) I added the almonds into the mix with a little rosewater.

The mixture was boiled till reaching the soft ball stage of candy making.

The soft ball stage is where a drop of the candy being made is dropped into a bowl of very cold (icy) water.

If a ball forms then the candy is said to have reached the ball stage.  Hard or soft ball stage is determined on whether the candy ball in the water is soft or hard to the touch. (That is my understanding at least).

Here the recipe is a little unclear.  Do you put the pot that everything has been boiled in and set the pot to cool or pour the mixture on a smooth tile (which would be very messy) to cool.  I made the decision that they mean the pot and not pour the mixture onto a flat surface.  I did not let this stand for more then a few moments, while I pulled out the molds selected.

I gave the molds a quick wipe with sesame oil and then poured in the mixture to harden.

The molds used were simple candy molds of silicon and not the metal or Birchwood molds suggested.  I don’t have the metal casting skill or wood carving skill to attempt anything like that.  As for the coloring, the candies came out a really nice dark amber and any saffron painting would have been lost as to delicate.

A closer look for better detail.

The candies are crunchy and chewy.  Sweet and nutty.   Very nice!

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