Halvah (or halva), a sesame sweetmeat found throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and even into Asia and India, is perhaps one of the most nutritious whole foods sweets we can make. It is rich in protein, polyunsaturated fats, calcium, iron, magnesium, and plant sterols. Just as importantly for people with a sweet tooth, it’s delicious and can be flavored with chocolate, coffee, vanilla, rosewater or orange oil.You can add pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts or black sesame seeds to add crunch and flavor. In other words, it’s a sweet that is flexible and open to interpretation. This version is quite simple. Make sure you use good quality honey and tahini.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
- 2 cups honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups toasted unsalted pistachios or almonds
- 2 cups tahini (stirred smooth)
Heat the honey in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until it reaches 240’ or the “soft ball” stage (syrup dropped into cold water will form a soft, flexible ball). Allow the honey to cool slightly and add the vanilla and nuts. Gently fold in the tahini and stir until the mixture is well blended.
Lightly oil a 6-cup mold, loaf, or cake pan. Pour the mixture into the pan and cool completely. Wrap the halvah well and refrigerate it for 24-36 hours so the halvah’s characteristic crystallized texture can fully develop.
Cut the halvah while it’s cold, but serve at room temperature.
Makes about 2 pounds of sweetmeat.
Copyright 2011 by Jen Hoy