We prepare halva, a traditional Turkish dessert.
In modern Turkish cuisine, there are two types of halva. The first is the type of dessert made with a base of starch, sugar and butter and other ingredients such as nuts and flavorings. Turkish flour halva and semolina halva are served as desserts and on special occasions. The second, what we will write about, type of halva is the type of pastry. It is made with sesame nut butter (better known as tahini) and sugar. It is sold in blocks and sliced or diced for serving. It has a soft, crumbly, slightly crystalline texture. It often has other additions such as nuts, dried fruit or cocoa inside.
How Tahini Halva is made
Tahini halva is made with two basic ingredients: large quantities of sesame seeds and sugar. It also contains small amounts of citric acid, natural vanilla extract and soapwort extract which helps regulate the texture. Other ingredients such as cocoa powder, nuts and dried fruits are added after preparing the initial helva blend.
First, the sesame seeds are ground to an ultra-fine, smooth paste called tahini. The sugar is boiled with the soapwort extract until it thickens and takes on a nougat consistency.
Finally, it is kneaded with the tahini. Well-known halva makers claim that kneading is the most important stage and must be done with care and attention for best results.
Once the consistency is correct, the added ingredients are kneaded and the halva is shaped and packaged.
Tahini helva can be sweet, but it contains a lot of energy and nourishment. It is rich in protein, calcium, vitamin E and phosphate. Like other nut butters, it also provides a lot of energy. That is why it is a favorite snack for children and athletes. It is often served alongside the traditional Turkish breakfast to start the day off right.
Where to find Halva
If you visit Turkey, halva is in almost every market. In Turkey, there are several large companies that produce tahini halva in the traditional way without artificial additives.
You can buy pre-packaged blocks of plain tahini halva, with pistachios or marbled with cocoa. They come in large quantities up to single serving packs for snackers on the go. You can also buy tahini helva by the kilogram in most bazaars, such as the Grand Bazaar, and delicatessens. If you live elsewhere and want to try this delicious satisfying snack, you can find Turkish-style tahini halva at Greek and Middle Eastern markets and websites that sell Turkish food.
Turkish Halva: the recipe
If you want to make tahini halva at home, you can use our recipe.
Ingrediants: 1 pound of sugar, 16 ounces of tahini or sesame paste, 1 teaspoon of crystal citric acid, 3/4 cup of water,
1/2 cup shelled of pistachios.
Procedure for making halva: Put the water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add the sugar and mix until dissolved. Add the citric acid and continue boiling the sugar until it darkens and stiffens to the consistency of thick honey. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the tahini to the thickened sugar. Using a wooden spoon, mix the mixture by scraping the sides and bring it to the center. Repeat this movement evenly over the entire plate, always stirring the mixture towards the center. When you have a soft consistency, add the optional nuts and mix. Press the mixture into a square or rectangular dish. Leave to cool to room temperature. Cut the helva into squares and serve. You can garnish each serving with additional chopped nuts if you wish.