Kestane şekeri - Candied chestnut, a traditional Turkish sweet

Turkey has a wide range of traditional sweets. And one of these that I love the most is kestane şekeri or candied chestnut that’s usually prepared by cooking chestnuts in sweet sugar syrup.

I may always want a lion’s share whenever it comes to chestnut cakes – no doubt about it, but there is just something so different with candied chestnuts that I just can’t compare them to my favorite chestnut cake. Well the fact is, candied chestnuts can be listed under the condiments category so that’s one thing that sets them apart from being compared to flavorful cakes. But imagine sweet chestnuts even more sweetened in an almost caramelized state! To me, it’s what truly make chestnuts shine! It’s not just about how these candied thing looks so irresistible when cooked in sweet syrup, but I’m talking about how they taste so differently when they are candied and sweetened. There is no other word to describe it but “yummy”!

And one very good thing about chestnuts is that you can have them prepared in whatever way you like it - roasted, boiled, baked, and of course – candied.  Maybe that is why chestnuts aren’t just used in making breads, cakes or in stews, soups, and sauces but they have also become very useful in making flavorful desserts and various sweets, too.

In Turkey, chestnuts have become very popular not just as a street snack in winter (roasted chestnuts) but it’s also popular for being a mouth watering traditional sweet. And fortunately in Istanbul (or almost anywhere in Turkey), candied chestnuts can easily be bought in grocery stores, local markets, or specialized shops if you don’t know how to make them yourself.  That may be because Turkey is one of the major chestnut producers in the world. Its famous chestnuts are mainly cultivated in the mountainous areas of the Aegean, Marmara and Black Sea regions – but more particularly in the province of Bursa where a week long Chestnut Festival is even celebrated every year. These brown colored nuts grow there abundantly in tall trees and are usually harvested during the autumn season. Kafkas and Kestat, both in Bursa are among the country’s leading candied chestnut makers which have a wide variety of candied chestnut products to offer. Among their most common variety of candied chestnuts start from sade kestane şekeri (plain candied chestnut) and pastörize kestane şekeri (pastorized candied chestnuts) to şuruplu kestane şekeri (candied chestnuts in syrup), and the light kestane şekeri (candied chestnut for diabetics).

So if you'll spoon in a whole sweet candied chestnut, you'll know for sure that you just can’t resist getting another one.  In my part,  I eat kestane şekeri almost just like how I eat chips – I just can’t have one, can I?  No, not me - and what makes it so yummy-licious is that there is something you can enjoy chewing once it gets into your mouth - sweet and very flavorful. Besides, chestnut is an energy-rich food, too. It contains starch, sucrose, protein, etc. so a serving size pack of nutritious and delicious kestane şekeri might just keep you moving all through the day. J

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