Over the years, many readers of this website have asked me for a good recipe for everybody’s fave million-calorie Middle-Eastern treat, halva. It has taken me quite a long while to figure out a fool-proof version of halva… but here it is, finally!
In case you’ve just landed from another planet and don’t know what halva is, you can think of it as some sort of fudgy candy made with sesame and honey, which will change your life for the better when you taste it!
Making halva at home is not easy at all, which is why I was very slow to publish a recipe: like all the preparations in which you have to work with sugar and heat it to perfection, mistakes are lurking practically around every corner. After many attempts, however, I believe I have found a procedure that works, so please give it a try and let me know how it goes!
The recipe comes, with minor variations, from the book “Zahav” by Michael Solomonov, a book I wholeheartedly recommend: to give you a sense of how much I love the book, I can tell you it is one of the five books (only five, I know, it’s cruel!) that I brought with me on my move to Israel.
- 550 g white sugar
- seeds of 1 vanilla pod
- 300 ml tahina
- 115 g water
- 1 pinch of salt
- Line an 8- x 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- Combine sugar and vanilla with 1/2 cup water in a non-stick pot over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Allow mixture to simmer into a syrup, without stirring, until temperature registers 245 degrees on candy thermometer.
- While syrup is cooking, place tahini and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle. Beat on medium speed and carefully stream syrup into tahini. Mix until syrup is incorporated and mixture begins to pull away from sides of bowl, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Be careful not to overmix.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and flatten it with a spatula; next, place another piece of parchment paper on top and smooth out the halvah with your hands.
- Let he halva cool and come to room temperature, then cut into squares.
- Store wrapped in plastc, inside a tin box, for a week or so.
If you bought tahini to try this recipe for halva and have leftovers, consider also baking these scrumptious honey and tahini cookies. Nobody likes having a jar of tahini getting stale in the fridge for ages, so go ahead and treat yourself to a batch of cookies, you won’t regret it!