There are many different types of Turkish desserts, ranging from pies and pastries to preserves made using fresh fruits and rose petals. Some of the most common and recognizable Turkish desserts include baklava, muhallebi, dondurma, and asure. These desserts have a long history in the region, dating all the way back to the Ottoman Empire. Desserts that originate from Turkey are usually rich in nuts, syrups, and fruit.
Of all the Turkish desserts, baklava is probably the most popular, as the layered pastry is served in many bakeries and restaurants throughout the world. Traditional baklava consists of layers of filo dough that are stuffed with a mixture of ground nuts, spices, and honey or rich syrup. Various types of nuts and spices can be used, but most baklava recipes call for walnuts, pecans, cinnamon and cloves. The pastry is baked, and then cut before serving. Baklava can typically be made well ahead of time, then refrigerated or frozen until needed.
Asure is an unusual pudding-based dessert, and is made using a mixture of rose water, nuts, fruits, and beans. Most recipes call for the use of a combination of chickpeas and white beans, but other beans can be used. According to folk tales, asure was first served on Noah’s Ark, and was made from all the items that Noah had on hand. Asure requires a great deal of preparation and is usually reserved for special occasions such as religious holidays or festivals. In many families, special recipes for asure are handed down through generations.
Muhallebi describes a whole family of pudding-like Turkish desserts. Traditionally, these puddings are made without using eggs, and are typically thickened with rice flour. Some of the most common flavors of muhallebi are coconut, vanilla, and cinnamon. Muhallebi can be served alone, but is often garnished with spices, fruits, nuts or heavy syrup. In Turkey, some muhallebi recipes call for the addition of meat or poultry being added to the sweetened pudding.
Dondurma is a Turkish dessert that is in many ways like ice cream, made from sugar, milk, mastic, and salep. Mastic is a type of flour made from orchid roots, and is used to add thickness to the dish. Salep is a resin which is added to give dondurma a gummy texture. The rich confection is served frozen, and is can be made in many different flavors or with the addition of chopped fruit and nuts.