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Turkish desserts are famous, and for good reason! You know how incredible baklava is as each of its 40 layers melts in your mouth. You know the allure of Turkish delight as you can’t help but ask for more. And those other syrupy desserts, like Kadayif or Kunefe are rich and incredible as well.
But did you know that Turkey also has an excellent set of milk-based desserts too that are all its own? We’ve made a list for you, so you can run out to the nearest Turkish restaurant, or just come to Turkey and try the real thing! Each of these is mouthwateringly delicious, try them all!
Salep ice cream is literally not sold anywhere else in the world, and it’s main ingredient – salep – is protected by Turkey and not exported. Salep is made from ground up orchids, making it very valuable as orchids take 7 or 8 years to grow. It’s then turned into ice cream, and mixed with mastic and whichever flavor (chocolate, strawberry, etc.) you desire.
The salep also makes the ice cream stickier and stretchier than any other ice cream. It doesn’t melt off the edge of the cone and you’ll see ice cream vendors pull a slapstick routine by sticking the ice cream to the cone or the scooper, fooling tourists who reach out to grab it.
It also means that it can be served in different ways, and is often served with a knife and fork! Ice cream in Turkey is often produced using goat’s milk, and even what the goat’s themselves eat is controlled to make sure the milk and ice cream taste absolutely perfect. On a hot summer day in Turkey, there is no better ice cream in the world than Turkish salep ice cream.
This dish’s name means literally “chicken breast,” and it gets its name for good reason! The white chicken meat in the dish is actually not used for flavor at all, and you won’t notice them in the least. They’re used to give this custardy dish an elastic texture, making it almost chewy and creamy all at the same time.
It’s seasoned with cinnamon and vanilla, and was originally one of the signature delicacies of the imperial palace. Now you’ll find it at cafés and patisseries all over the city.
This is very similar to standard rice pudding. It’s a simple dish of whole milk, sugar, white rice and starch to thicken it. On top is a golden-brown skin and is one of the more common dishes you’ll find in homes or in restaurants. It’s great after a heavy kebab meal, or just to warm you up in the wintertime along with a cup of Turkish tea.
Kazandibi means “bottom of the pan” and that’s pretty much exactly what it is. It’s more or less the same custardy dish as Tavuk Göğsü, only it’s cooked a second time in a metal tray so that one side of the pudding caramelizes completely. It’s even thicker than standard tavuk goğsu and that burnt, caramelized flavor adds another layer to what is already a wonderful dessert.
Muhallebi is another custardy dish that is best served cold on a hot summer day. It is served in different ways, but sometimes mastic is added to it, or chocolate. It’s sticky and stretchy, and the extra flavor provided by either a chocolate sauce on top of mastic inside makes it a perfect creamy summer dessert.
Trileçe, also known as tres leches cake, is essentially a butter cake that is then soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. It’s very light and often topped with a caramel topping of some sort, making it also wonderful for the summer.
As its name implies, it’s not necessarily of Turkish origins, but instead originates from the Balkans. It was very popular during the Ottoman Empire and remains a staple dessert in modern Turkey today.
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