Pişmaniye is an ancient Turkish sweet that dates back to the 15th century. It is also called “fairy floss,” “string halva,” “stretched halva” or “flax halva.” There are a lot of stories and local traditions surrounding pişmaniye. In the Turkish language, “pişman” means “regret.” As the Turkish saying goes, “Try it once and regret it once. Don’t try it and you’ll regret it a thousand times.”
Pişmaniye resembles cotton candy but it has a different texture and a deeper flavor. Unlike cotton candy, this specialty candy contains flour and butter, and the sugary mixture is pulled into thousands of fine, crumbly strands. These strands are gathered into bite-sized balls and boxed like candy. Pişmaniye comes in several varieties and it is sold plain or coated with chocolate, topped with ground pistachios or walnuts, and flavored with vanilla or cocoa powder.
History of Pişmaniye
The birthplace of pişmaniye is the Kandira district in the city of Kocaeli in Northwestern Turkey, not far from Istanbul. Today, fluffy floss is produced all around the country but the best still comes from this region. Unlike most Turkish sweets like baklava, you won’t find pişmaniye in your local market or pastry shop, as it’s usually sold in tourist gifts and souvenir shops and in some upscale charcuterie shops.
Since pişmaniye can be stored for a long time without refrigeration, buying it as a gift for family and friends is a common tradition throughout Turkey. Many wait until they travel through the Izmit area and stock up for future gifts.