Dessert is universally both a luxury and an expression of a culture’s unique culinary skill. Eating a sweet treat after a delicious meal completes the experience for most people. Turkish desserts are often naturally sweet and creatively spiced.
Below are 10 of my own favorite Turkish desserts:
1. Acıbadem kurabiyesi
Literally meaning “bitter almond biscuit”, these cookies are a traditional dessert staple found at most bakeries in Turkey. They are chewy and slightly sweet, and are best served with coffee.
Zerde is a sweet rice pudding that is traditionally served at festivities like weddings, birth celebrations, and religious celebrations.
This sweet cheese pastry can also be eaten for a breakfast or dinner, but it is most popular as a dessert. Kunefe is filled with soft cheese and in the last few minutes of cooking, syrup infused with orange blossom is poured over the top. Garnished with chopped pistachio nuts, this sweet dessert is unique and especially satisfying. It often contains orange food coloring to enhance the syrup’s color.
This is the closest thing you’ll find to an American doughnut in Turkey. These are similar to traditional biscuits but they are then fried, hence the comparison to doughnuts. They are flavored with honey, sugar syrup, or cinnamon and are sometimes sprinkled with sesame seeds.
This popular dessert can be found in many countries in Asia and the Mediterranean. Layers of phyllo dough and chopped nuts are sweetened with syrup or honey, then cut into individual servings. This treat is a delicious end to any Turkish meal.
6. Ekmek kadayıfı
A version of bread pudding that is served with kaymak, a type of sweetened cream; this dessert provides a thick and sweet finish after a traditional Turkish dinner.
7. Sütlü Nuriye
Similar to baklava, this Turkish dessert was born from the supply shortages in the 1980’s. A baklava producer used milk and added hazelnuts instead of pistachios to make a whole new dessert. It is much more perishable than standard baklava but is especially delicious on a summer evening.
Known by many names in various countries, this sweet cake made from semolina and soaked in syrup is a favorite among Turkish cuisine lovers. Orange flower water is often added. Chopped pistachios top this dessert for a rich finish.
This is a unique and delicious dessert that is fun to eat and fun to make! Dried fruits and walnuts are laced on a string and dipped in thick, unsweetened grape must (the squished grape juice that still includes skins and pulp). These strings are then left to dry in the sun. They often look like candles or a sausage due to the grape must’s opaque finish.
Halva is a generic term for a few different types of dense, rich desserts; “halva” literally means “sweet”. There is a flour-based version that is more gelatinous, whereas the nut, butter, and sugar-based version crumbles more easily. Regardless of what kind of halva you find, the sweetness and nutty texture of this dessert will hit your palate just right after a Turkish meal.
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