The classic Washington state dessert, aplets, is an American twist on Turkish delight. It’s essentially a sweet treat made of sugar, cornstarch, a variety of flavorings (like rosewater and pomegranate) and nuts. Both have a chewy consistency that complements the nutty crunch of the dessert and both are super easy to make at home, as long as you’re patient.
The main difference between aplets and the Turkish delight is that the former are made with gelatin rather than cornstarch, and they use more cost-friendly ingredients like apples and walnuts rather than pistachios and pomegranates. This recipe makes enough cider for 3-4 batches of aplets, 32 to a batch, but you can also drink the extra cider.
For the cider:
2 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
½ cup granulated sugar
1-4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, to taste
1 cup chopped walnuts
2-2 ½ packets unflavored gelatin
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 Tbsp water
1 ½ cups sugar
Powdered sugar, to dust
Make the cider:
Thoroughly wash your apples and orange, then roughly chop the apples into quarters. Peel and chop the orange, placing all of the fruit in a large stockpot. Add the cloves and cinnamon, then top with enough water to cover all of your fruit.
Simmer this on the stovetop for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, then once all the fruit is tender, mash it up and cook for another hour.
Strain it into a pitcher with a colander, then strain again with a sieve to catch the finer particles of apple and orange.
Add 1-4 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar until it reaches your desired acidity. This will depend on taste and also on the type of apples you use.
Make the aplets:
Lightly grease an 8×8 inch pan and pour in your chopped walnuts
Combine ⅓ cup cider with the gelatin, water and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. How much gelatin you use depends on how firm you want the candy to be. If you use 2 packets, it will be quite soft for the first day but will eventually set up to a good texture. If you want a firmer candy, go for 2 ½ packets. Mix these and set aside.
Combine ⅔ cup cider with 1 ½ cup sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir till the sugar is dissolved. Cook without stirring until it reaches 235 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, drop a small spoonful of the mixture into a bowl of cold water. It should form a ball in the water and be pliable when removed. This website explains how to tell in further detail: https://www.thespruceeats.com/soft-ball-stage-520376. I wouldn’t start testing until the mixture is bubbling vigorously. This process might take a while, so be patient and attentive.
Add the gelatin mixture to the hot sugar mixture, then bring the temperature back up to 225, stirring all the while. Finally, pour it over your walnuts, using a rubber spatula to scrape out the last of the hot syrup into the pan. Cover with tin foil and allow to set for 12 hours.
After 12 hours, dust with powdered sugar and turn it out of the pan onto a cutting board. This might take a bit of effort, so use a knife to cut around the edges and use an offset spatula to release the bottom of the dessert from the pan with ease. Once it’s out, dust again with powdered sugar, cut with a greased knife into 32 rectangular pieces and roll each piece in more powdered sugar. These need to set for another 12-18 hours before they’re done, but they’re edible at this stage if you want to try one. You can speed up the process a little with the refrigerator if you want, in which case it will take 10-12 hours to set.
Enjoy! They’re finally done, after all of that waiting. Enjoy with some cider, or use the rest of the cider to make more.