January 26, 2018

Sesame Halva | Arabian Nights

(Originally posted February 2015 for Fiction Kitchen Podcast Episode 9.)
     In the Arabian Nights/Thousand and One Nights, sweetmeats are mentioned many times and simply refer to confections made with sugar or honey. Halva, or halwa, a common dessert in the Middle East and surrounding regions, often made from nut butters, is mentioned in at least a few stories in regards to sweetmeats. I went through a few trials of making this very simple tahini (sesame paste) version and found the recipe below to work best for me (watching this video from ureviews helped a bunch!).

Sesame Halva

1 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Water
1 Cup Tahini
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Salt
1/4-1/3 Cup Chopped Nuts such as Pistachio or Almond (optional)

Line a small loaf pan with parchment paper & spray with non-stick spray. Make sure your tahini is stirred/shaken up well & then pour 1 cup of it into a small pot & warm up on low heat. Stir in the pinch of salt & vanilla. If using nuts, stir them into the tahini or sprinkle a layer on the bottom of your paper-lined pan.

In a second small pot, over medium heat, heat the sugar & water until the sugar is melted (swirling, not stirring) & the temperature reads 255-260ºF on a candy thermometer (hard ball stage). Scrape the tahini into the sugar pot & stir until thoroughly combined & then quickly pour into the prepared pan. Spread evenly & sit on the counter to cool. Cover with foil & place in the fridge overnight. Cut off slices to serve.

*For more food inspired by the Arabian Nights try my Sharbat Drink and Labneh Cheese!*

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