Hands up who loves halva? This wonderful Middle Eastern treat makes for a wonderful gift too. All you need is tahini as a base and sweetener. This divine halva is swirled through with dark chocolate too for an extra special treat. Perfect for gifting or as a sweet treat with coffee or tea!
Halva is the general name for a sweet confection served all across the world particularly in the Middle East, India, the Balkans, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. Halva was said to have been invented in Persia in the 7th century but at the time it was a paste made of mashed dates. Since then the word which comes from the word ḥalwá in Arabic means "Sweet", can refer to various types of sweet confections. Halva differs according to where it is from- halva can be made with carrots or semolina and varies according to the region. This is tahini halva which is made with tahini, sugar and honey and has a delicious, slightly grainy texture.
Home-made halva must be stored in the fridge where it will keep for months and will retain a firm shape. Once it is taken out of the fridge it becomes soft especially in summer months but home made halva is a treat because you can use the best chocolate and your favourite flavours.
Ways to Enjoy Halva: Halva is delicious served in cubes on top of ice cream, as a snack with coffee or tea. I have also used halva in brownies and cookies and it works really well in them. You can use halva where you would use nuts or chocolate in baked goods (although halva won't melt to liquid like chocolate).
Other halva flavours: try pistachio, lemon, rose or coffee halva. You can also use other nuts as all nuts go well in halva and offer different consistencies and crunch levels.
In all honesty I did not expect my first go at halva to work so well. I gave some to my two favourite halva testers and people who know their halva: Valentina who is Cypriot and Laura who is half Jewish and has spent a lot of time in the Middle East and got their seal of approval. Valentina said that I nailed the halva and Laura tried a piece and loved that chewy, grainy texture. She tried it after we went out for yum cha.
It was our first yum cha in a long time and a lot was riding on it. We discussed what time we would go and went back and forth for a few days. I'm not an early morning person so I was loathe to make it an early one but having perused their menu I knew that there were things that we had to try. I messaged the yum cha restaurant and they said that we needed to arrive early to get what we want. I relayed this to Laura and after a lot of toing and froing we agreed upon an early hour just in case items ran out.
When we got there we were told to wait 1.5 hours for a table. Laura and I did some Christmas shopping and I got something that I needed and she bought a dress that she needed and the time flew by. The yum cha was worth the wait although we weren't quite sure if we would go back because we may not always be in the mood to wait 1.5 hours.
Then I went to write my story on yum cha and I noticed that for all of the research we had done, we had completely missed one important thing...
We completely missed the fact that we could have booked a table!
I mentioned that to Laura but she did point out that we managed to get some Christmas errands done in that time so it always works out in the end. But really, sometimes I feel like we miss some rather important, crucial details.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you find that things always work out in the end? Do you like tahini halva and have you ever tried making halva?
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Chocolate Swirled Halva
Rated 5.0 out of 5 by 1 readers
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 10 minutes plus cooling time
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: makes 8 large slices
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1 cup/260g/9.1ozs. tahini, room temperature
- Pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup/220g/7.7ozs. sugar
- 120g/4ozs. honey
- 100g/3.5ozs. dark chocolate, chopped
Step 1 - Line a 15x9.5cms/5.9x3.7inch loaf tin on the base and sides with parchment and sprinkle sesame seeds on the base of the tin. In a large heatproof bowl stir the tahini, salt and vanilla together and set aside. Heat the sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan on medium to high heat until it starts to turn brown and form a caramel. Remove from the heat and add the honey to the caramel and mix together.
Step 2 -Immediately pour the honey caramel into the sesame mixture stirring to combine until it starts to become stiff. Add the chocolate and allow the heat to melt the chocolate and stir a little to get a striped effect. Pour into the prepared tin. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for 1-2 days so that it develops the signature grainy halva texture. Store wrapped in the fridge for up to 6 months.