|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 8 to 12|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 8g||10%|
|Saturated Fat 5g||24%|
|Total Carbohydrate 25g||9%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||2%|
|Total Sugars 13g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Halva is probably the quintessential favorite candy dessert in the Middle East. The recipe, however, can vary greatly from region to region and country to country. For the most part, it is a dense, sweet confection and the two most common variations are flour-based halva and a nut and seed-based halva. Halva with flour is often more gelatinous, whereas the nut and seed butter halva tends to be drier, with a more crumbly texture.
The most typical nut and seed base is made from sesame seed paste, or tahini, which is combined with sugar or honey and heavy cream. Then, it can be either flavored with vanilla or with bits of chocolate swirled throughout to create a marbled effect. It also often includes bits of pistachios. In the United States, halva is often sold pre-packaged in specialty stores or in freshly made blocks in gourmet and food stores specializing in Middle Eastern cuisine. In the Middle East, however, the candy is more likely to be homemade.
The flour-based recipe, commonly found in Iran, Greece, Turkey, India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, uses semolina, butter, and sugar. It's often flavored with spices such as saffron and aromatics such as rosewater. Cornstarch is sometimes used in the Greek version.
Nut-based halva is common in Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria, but it's almost always made with sesame seeds. Sunflower seed versions, however, are popular in eastern European countries. Tahini-based halva is the one most commonly sold in the United States.
In addition to being a delicious confection on its own, the halva candy makes a delicious base for a batch of chocolate brownies, an ingredient in chocolate chip cookies, or as the flavoring in homemade ice cream.
The recipe below uses flour. It's rich and sweet and very aromatic from the addition of rosewater and saffron. Halva is great on its own, but even better when enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea after a meal.
"The dense, slightly chewy texture of this flour halva is very different from the crumbly texture of sesame halva, but it's delicious in its own right. It's almost like rosewater and saffron flavored cookie dough. I could see sliced toasted almonds or pistachios being a great addition."—Danielle Centoni
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons rosewater
1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron threads
1/2 cup (4-ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (about 7-ounces) all-purpose flour
Gather the ingredients.
Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Allow to boil for 1 minute.
Remove from heat and stir in the rosewater and the saffron. The texture will be like syrup.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Add the flour slowly, mixing with the butter to make a crumbly paste. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the mixture takes on a light golden color and smells toasted, 15 to 20 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and slowly add the rosewater-saffron mixture, stirring continually. Mix until well blended. Remove from the heat.
Immediately pour the mixture into individual ramekins or onto a serving plate. Make decorative indentations along the surface with a spoon or knife.
Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. Remove the halva from the ramekins or cut into small serving pieces and serve.