Monday, April 25, 2011

Istanbul Part One - Turkish Sweets

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?


  1. Oh yum. I love all those sweets and look how pretty the displays are!

  2. Love all the pictures! One of my favorite things to do in foreign countries is visit the pastry shops.

  3. Lovely photos and my teeth hurt just looking at all that sugar


    Being half Lebanese, I grew up on baklava and tahini candy...loved it as a child. I think I need to relive that part of my childhood!

    janet xox

  4. I love these photos - it is certainly a tour of Turkey through your eyes :)

  5. Super job on sharing this veeeery important part of your trip!!

  6. That Turkish Delight looks so good! My kids were obsessed with that when the first Narnia movie came out, but I never could find any that was any good. Looks like I'll have to go to Istanbul... what variations of it did you try? Any recommendations on what kind I should look for?
    ~Nancy Lewis~

  7. As a Turkish people am very glad you liked deserts. after i have seen your pictures , i remembered how much i miss Istanbul. i like the pictures very much i am wondering the rest. if it is your first visit to Turkey, i should say you are very succesfull to taste a lot of populer deserts. baklava and lokum are my favorite also. i read your blog while i was preparing a new broadcast " a baklava desert called SUTLU NURIYE " for my blog. i forgot it and start to sirf your blog.

  8. Yumm--my sweet tooth is bouncing mad just by viewing these mouth-watering pictures!



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