Halva is one of those love-it-or-hate it things. I’ve never met anyone who’s just so-so about this middle-eastern sugar and tahini treat.
With leftover carrot and ginger pulp from a delicious orange smoothie, it seemed like a good opportunity to try making a more universally loved halva (universal = more than just one person in this family).
Google is only a half friend in this experiment. There are a lot of recipes, but they vary with the ratio of sugar:tahini. It varies from 3:4 (less sugar than tahini) to 4:3 (more sugar than tahini). This video claims to make ‘halva that really works’, but it was far too sweet for us. But we noted their comments about the cooking temperature, tried again, and came up with this:
Hmmmm, not too bad. At first it wasn’t as flaky as real halva, but that’s almost impossible in a domestic western kitchen because we don’t have the secret ingredient: soapwort. After a week, its texture improved a lot. It still isn’t commerical grade, but for a home kitchen, we think it’s pretty good.
For my next trick, I might try this delicious looking Chocolate nut halva. It looks like we could reduce the amount of sugar even more.
At any rate, I thought we would bring this to Fiesta Friday to share it around. So what do you think? Have you tried making Middle Eastern style halva before?
Tahini halva with carrot and ginger
Ingredients (a very small amount)
- 2-3 tablespoons of water
- ½ cup of sugar
- ½ cup of tahini
- ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- optional: 1-2 tablespoons of leftover ginger and carrot from the orange smoothie
- more options: chopped nuts
Ingredients (for a lot of people)
- ½ cup of water
- 2 cups of sugar
- 2 cups of tahini
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- optional: up to ½ cup of leftover minced ginger and carrot from the orange smoothie
- more options: chopped nuts
- Warm the tahini until it feels very warm (about 40 to 45 degrees). You can do this in the microwave using medium power.
- In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water until it reaches the hard ball stage (121 degrees Celsius, or 250ºF, on a sugar thermometer).
- Take the sugar−water mixture off the heat NOW and immediately stir in the warmed tahini. Add the carrot and ginger too, or chopped nuts if you’re using them.
- Stir this mixture quite vigorously until it starts to stiffen and form a smooth paste. The more you make, the longer it takes. For the smallest quantity, you have less than a minute or two!
- Pour into a greased and lined tray and sprinkle the top with more chopped nuts or minced carrot and ginger.
- Set aside for a day or two. It seems to improve the texture.
The temperature of the sugar−water mixture is critical. If you heat it too long, you’ll end up at the ‘cracked’ stage, which will give you something like toffee. If you stop at the soft ball stage (which most websites recommend), you seem to end up with toffee-like fudge. You really do need a sugar thermometer to get the best results.
You don’t really need the water, but it makes it easier to heat the sugar without burning it before it melts.