Greek Sesame Honey Candy (Pasteli)

Sesame seed candy
Eliza Adam/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Chill Time: 3 hrs
  • Yield: 100 pieces (20 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
185 Calories
10g Fat
24g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 100 pieces (20 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 185
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 6mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Protein 4g
Calcium 120mg 9%
*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.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

In Greek: παστέλι, pronounced pah-STEH-lee

Something of an ancient Greek version of a power bar, pasteli has been made with the same two ingredients for millennia: honey and sesame seeds. The version of pasteli most commonly sold in markets is generally hard—it's the addition of refined sugar in those recipes that make it that way. This classic version does not use refined sugar, allowing the traditional honey to create a chewy texture.

The quality and taste of the honey will have an effect on the final product. Try this recipe with the organic honey of your preference (thyme, wildflower, fir, pine, chestnut, etc.). You also may want to look for sesame seeds in bulk, as they can be quite expensive, especially when purchased in small quantities. This recipe calls for an optional lemon peel to give the pasteli a light hint of citrus. You can omit it, but the lemon flavor adds a bit of zing to this treasured Greek treat.

Pasteli can be eaten as candy or energy booster at any time, and it is a wonderful accompaniment to tea. Because it is very sweet, cut it into small pieces. Those with a sweet tooth can always eat more!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups honey
  • 3 cups white sesame seeds (hulled)
  • Optional: 1 strip lemon peel (about 1/4 x 1 inch)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a saucepan, bring the honey and lemon peel (if using) to a boil. Add the sesame seeds, stirring continuously. Continue to cook while stirring to mix completely and thoroughly. When the seeds are fully mixed in and the mixture has boiled again, remove the pan from the heat. Remove the lemon peel and discard it.

  3. Place a piece of baking parchment on a cool work surface and spread out the hot mixture thinly and evenly (about 1/4 inch deep).

  4. When the pasteli cools to room temperature, refrigerate it on the parchment paper (it doesn't need to be covered). Chill for at least 2 to 3 hours.

  5. With kitchen shears, cut the pasteli together with parchment paper into small pieces, and serve.

  6. To eat, peel off the parchment paper. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Recipe Tip

Making More or Less?

The recipe calls for equal parts by weight of sesame seeds and honey:

  • 1 pound of honey (16 ounces) = approximately 1 1/3 cups
  • 1 pound of sesame seeds = approximately 3 cups

You can enjoy pasteli as a natural energy bar. Sesame seeds are high in protein, but also contain healthy oils and antioxidants. If you've become dependent on store-bought energy bars, these will have no additives, and you can ensure they are gluten-free if that is a concern.

One variation you might try is adding some crushed nuts to the mixture, such as pistachios. Or, lightly toast some of the sesame seeds to add a roasted flavor.