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There is A LOT of sweet treat in Turkish cuisine, some are modern additions but many have been going strong since the Ottoman period. Before the introduction of granulated sugar, honey was used a lot but as it was so expensive only buy the very affluent families. Predating the use of honey and for those without vaults of ..... money grape molasses or pekmez offered a concentrated burst of sweetness as well as numerous health benefits including boosting the digestive, immune and nervous systems.
Sucuk - not the meaty type, is a popular sausage-shaped nutty sweet made from pekmez and starch. You've likely seen them hung up on the spice stall of the weekly market but there is another less popular sweetmeat called köfter which too is usually made from pekmez but is much closer to lokum - Turkish delight in design. The köfter or köyta as it's called in some areas is poured into trays until it sets before being cut into small squares and dried under the sun. Stored away in special containers to use as lozenges in the wintertime.
As with much of traditional sweets and dishes, unless you dig very deep there's only a handful of recipes online and very little information on it, I can only find recipe and references for it connected to Niğide, a small city in central Anatolia.
Once poured in trays the recipe advised leaving them in the sun for three to five days, I loved making the sun-dried peach jam last year so the idea of this had me excited but the Aegean sky did not agree with the concept. I made this during a raging storm and even if it hadn't been raining so heavy I'm sure the high humidity we suffer from in my area wouldn't have helped complete the task, so I placed them in my oven on 60 degrees and left them to dry out for our day. As all ways during storms here in Turkey the power got cut a few times but they still firmed up really well.
Half of them we've started to enjoy now and the other half I've boxed up to see if they crystalise up as described in the Kayseri version detailed in the book.
They're fabulous and have made it onto the top of my list for making next winter along with my favourite Turkish quince recipes and I'm looking forward to some recipe testing (and the eating involved) and might just give them pekmez version ago during the summer months.
I absolutely adore Mary Işın's book 'Sherbet and spice' and would probably go as far as to say it's my Turkish sweet treats bible. I dip into it every time I want to try a new sweet because it contains so much wonderful information and references. It's not a light read but it's a wonderful one.
I got my copy from D&R bookstore in Izmir but you can find the link to see it and treat yourself to a copy from Amazon.co.uk here.
About the book from Goodreads.com: One hundred sculpted sugar lions, baklava the size of cartwheels a thousand layers thick, helva made in memory of the dead, rose jam in a hundred pots of Dresden china, violet sherbet for the sultan, and parrots addicted to sugar . . . the stories behind Turkey's huge variety of sweets and puddings, valued not only for their taste but as symbols of happiness, good fortune, and goodwill, are as fascinating as their flavour. This riveting exploration of their history and role in Turkish culture is a voyage of adventure, taking us from the sultan's palace to the homes of ordinary people in Turkey's villages and towns, and beyond to Central Asia, Persia, Arabia, and Egypt.
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