If you have a sweet tooth, traveling to Turkey may have you thinking that you booked a ticket to heaven instead! There are so many wonderful desserts here in Turkey. When you’re in Istanbul, be sure to try at least one of these delectable treats!
Let’s start with a dessert you may already know, although it’s certainly taken to new levels in Turkey. If you’re a baklava fan, you’ll want to try different and exciting versions of this flaky phyllo dough baked around nuts, and if you’ve never had baklava before, you should sample this ubiquitous delight.
There are many different versions of baklava. Some have less pastry and more nuts, and some have walnuts instead of the more traditional pistachios. Other kinds of baklava even have sour cherries baked in it or a candied chestnut center. The shape of the pastry can vary too, offering all kinds of wonderful ways to enjoy this Turkish mainstay morning, noon and night. Don’t forget to try baklava’s equally charming cousin, kadayif, made with shredded, syrup-soaked dough.
Aşure is sometimes also called “Noah’s pudding,” and it is a popular offering at several restaurants in the Sultanahmet neighborhood. Some say this is the oldest dessert in the world, made of everything Noah could find after surviving the flood. There are numerous ways to prepare this light mix of grain and fruit, but it is commonly made by blending boiled barley or wheat, chickpeas, beans, dried fruits and citrus zest. Once cooled, it is served with a sprinkling of chopped nuts on top.
You can’t go to Turkey without at least once trying an apricot sweet. Kaymakli kayisi are apricots softened by being cooked in syrup and sometimes red wine, then stuffed with buffalo milk cream or marscapone cheese. They are garnished with a sprinkling of pistachios, walnuts or hazelnuts. You can’t go wrong with this way to finish off lunch.
Revani is a heavy sponge cake served in a sweet syrup, sometimes with mastic ice cream on the side. The Sephardic Jews who migrated to Turkey in the 15th Century are credited with creating this recipe. It was originally called tishpishti, but was later renamed revani in honor of the noted Turkish poet.
Turkish ice cream, or salep dondurma, is frequently sold from carts on the street. This particular type of ice cream actually stretches, different than what you may be used to as it is thickened with salep, made from wild orchid tubers. Made from mastic resin, as substance harvested from an evergreen relative of the pistachio, gives it a unique flavor. Don’t try to take salep powder home with you to make this treat at home, however. Due to a shortage of wild orchids in Turkey, it is no longer allowed out of the country, so you’ll have to get your fill ofsalep dondurma during your stay here.
Kunefe is a common street food in Turkey, and it is both sweet and savory. It is made from a stretchy cheese called hatay, which is a bit similar to mozzarella and coated in kadayif dough soaked in sugary syrup. The combination is then fried and topped with clotted cream or ice cream and chopped pistachios.
You may have seen lokma before or similar versions of it around the Mediterranean. It is a dessert made of little balls of dough that resemble doughnut holes and is sold by the box in Turkey. Unlike its American counterpart, lokma is crispier on the outside and chewier on the inside, as well as coated with a sticky syrup. This classic finger food is not to be missed!
Do you want to taste some these traditional Turkish desserts? Just ask the Concierge Department at Hotel Büyük Keban, and we will be happy to give you directions or even arrange transportation for you. We want your stay in Istanbul to be as amazing as possible, and of course, we are always thrilled when visitors enjoy our Turkish sweets!