Not surprisingly, I have more pictures of the beautiful desserts we saw in Istanbul than anything else. A city of 17 million people and a thriving tourism business can support a lot of bakeries, and so they were everywhere, and they displayed their sweets beautifully! There are a lot of pictures here to give you an idea of what the sweet shops were like.
The deep-fried dough, soaked in a sugar syrup were called halka. They were shiny and sweet and irresistible.
The Turkish Delight was nothing like the boxed varieties you might find in the states. The combinations were never-ending and made a beautiful display. I remember tasting a marshmallow-like confection filled with nuts that I will never forget - it was delicious! Speaking of nuts, they put them in everything, savory and sweet. I loved them, but I think it would be very difficult to visit this city if you were allergic to nuts, like my daughter is. The top picture and the next few photos below, show some of the varieties of Turkish confections.
Another Turkish favorite is baklava. We ate baklava every day, sometimes more than once! It was often made with pistachios here, but my favorite remains the baklava with walnuts. Just look at all the baklava varieties below. Mmm.
An interesting confection we tasted was made of tahini sesame paste, an ingredient found in hummus. I think they use tahini like we would use peanut butter in America. This confection is called halva with pistachios and was quite unique and delicious, soft and sweet.
After a long day of sightseeing, we just had to stop for a cup of Turkish tea...
...and a sampling of sweets - mini chocolate eclairs, truffles, baklava, and cookies. Oh my.
Some of the bakeries were simpler, and others were more gourmet, providing shelf upon shelf of beautiful cakes, truffles, and desserts to rival any top pastry chef's creations. The sheer volume of these desserts was amazing! Since they were displayed under glass, the photos just don't do them justice. You might just have to visit Istanbul yourself to get the true picture ... I'd gladly go back and be your tour guide!
Tell me you're not craving something sweet now! I still have a lot of pictures of Istanbul to show you, including more desserts and savory dishes and a look at the famous markets and historical sites. I think I'll go take a nap now though... how long after a trip can you blame jet lag for being so tired?