One of my favorite things to do in Jerusalem is to go to the shuk and check out the halva. Huge slabs of halva in every imaginable flavor, with the shopkeeper handing out samples so good you just can’t help but buy some.
Since I don’t live in Jerusalem, I have come up with a method to make your own that yields delicious halva so much fresher and more delicious than any packaged halva available for purchase.
It turns out that the flaky yet creamy texture that makes halva so alluring is somewhat dependent on making industrial sized batches, but that didn't stop me. This version is slightly less flaky than the halvah I remember from the shuk but it comes very close in texture and matches it in flavor.
Try this gluten free, vegan dessert for a satisfying treat, scroll down for other flavor variations or click here for my Coffee Halva Recipe.
- Cook Time
- Prep Time
- 1 pound granulated sugar
- Pinch salt
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) cold water
- 1 pound pure sesame tehini (make sure there is no added salt)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 ounces dark chocolate, melted
1. Line a loaf pan or other mold with plastic wrap leaving a generous overhang on each side. Set aside.
2. Place the water, sugar, and salt in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to make sure the sugar is all dissolving. Once the mixture comes to a boil do not stir it again. Place a candy thermometer in the sugar mixture and cook to 248 Fahrenheit. While it is cooking use a pastry brush dipped in water to periodically brush down the sides of the pan to wash down any sugar crystals.
3. While the sugar syrup is cooking place the tehini in a small sauce pan and heat to 120 Fahrenheit. (If you do not have a second thermometer just heat it until it is quite warm to the touch but not hot.) Stir frequently to prevent it from burning. Transfer the warm tehini to the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a mixing paddle. Add the vanilla extract.
4. Once the sugar has come to temperature, immediately pour it into the mixing bowl. Turn it on the lowest setting and mix just until the mixture starts to look a bit grainy and loses some of its shine. Be careful not to overbeat the mixture or it will set in the bowl yielding a crumbly mess rather than a creamy finished candy. This should take no more than a minute. Immediately add the chocolate and mix just until the chocolate is swirled through. Working quickly, transfer the mixture to the prepared mold. Smooth down the top with a spatula and fold the plastic wrap over the top. Let cool at room temperature until set, approximately one hour. Store, well wrapped in plastic, in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Vanilla Halvah: simply omit the chocolate.
Pistachio Halvah: omit the chocolate and add 1- 1 1/2 cups toasted unsalted pistachios to the mixing bowl with the tehini before adding the sugar syrup.