Sugar, Spice & Everything Nice

Turks don't usually finish their meal with a dessert, preferring to serve fruit as a finale. Most of them love a mid-afternoon sugar hit, though, and will often pop into a muhallebici (milk-pudding shop), pastane (cake shop) or baklavacı (baklava shop) for a piece of syrup-drenched baklava, a plate of chocolate-crowned profiteroles or a fırın sütlaç (rice pudding) tasting of milk, sugar and just a hint of exotic spices. Other Turkish sweet specialties worth sampling are kadayıf, dough soaked in syrup and topped with a layer of kaymak (clotted cream); künefe, layers of kadayıf cemented together with sweet cheese, doused in syrup and served hot with a sprinkling of pistachio; and katmer, thin layers of pastry filled with kaymak and pistachio and served hot.