Akide candy and Turkish delight are two of the most important culinary heritages of Turkey. Akide candy was invented in 16th century at a time when sugar was very expensive and more valuable than honey. The word “akide” comes from Arabic and means “faith and loyalty.” In Syrian Arabic dialect, it means “thickening, making a knot.” Therefore the candy that is made by boiling honey or sugar took on the name “akide.”
Later on, akide’s alternative meanings; faith and loyalty were picked up and akide candy took on a symbolic meaning. The janissary army would go to the place every 3 months to receive their salary, which was held in a ceremonial manner. The highest ranking janissary officers would offer this candy to the Grand Vizier and other dignitaries to symbolize their loyalty to the state and the sultan. It also became a tradition to offer akide candy to the members of the Imperial Council after the morning prayers every Tuesday, and akide candy became an important part of every type of social and religious celebrations as well as weddings and circumcision ceremonies.
The ingredients of akide candy are quite simple, yet making it requires a certain amount of expertise. Sugar with some water is heated up to about 175-180C (350F). Sugar has to be melted completely and come to an almost caramel consistency and poured on a marble counter. Marble is crucial in this process as the natural cooling effects will help with the cooling of the melted sugar and bring it to the right consistency to make the candy. At this stage the aromatics (e.g. mastic, mint, lemon, rose petals, pistachio, cinnamon, clove etc.) are added to the sugar and the kneading process starts that helps to bring down the temperature of the sugar, makes it pliable and incorporates the aromatics. When the cooling sugar comes to about 70C (160F) the shaping of the candy starts. Timing is very crucial in this process as the sugar hardens as it cools, so help from a heat lamp or a table with bottom heat is needed. The end product is the colorful little hard candies that are like little gems.
One of the most important discoveries of Turkish confectionery, akide candy is a cultural symbol of “eating sweet and talking sweet” (a famous Turkish saying).
Mary Işın, Sherbet and Spice, The Complete Story of Turkish Sweets and Desserts, Mary Işın, I.B.Tauris, London 2013