Tahini based helva or halva, is a delicious treat enjoyed in Turkey; I especially love the baked tahini halva served in kebab houses and restaurants at home, such a heavenly taste.
Helva, the Turkish name, derives from the Arabic ‘halva’ meaning ‘sweet confection’. Halva is a very popular candy in Turkey, Armenia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East served in cafes and kebab houses. Halva is made primarily with honey and tahini and there are many variations of it. In the old days they would grind oily sesame seeds into a paste (tahini) and then mix it with hot honey. This halva has a dry, deliciously crumbly texture and keeps in the fridge well for a long time. You can slice the halva and have with crackers or toasted slice of bread; the taste is just wonderful. I especially enjoy Ozerlat UK‘s Tahini Helva, Tahin Helvasi, made in Turkey with gorgeous pistachios from Gaziantep.
Here I chose to bake the tahini halva in the oven with sautéed pine nuts over the top. This dessert takes only minutes to make and it is so delicious; great for sharing with friends and family. The sautéed pine nuts add a lovely additional flavor and texture; I hope you enjoy it.
350g precooked helva/halva– plain or with nuts
juice of half a lemon
100ml/4fl oz. whole milk
For sautéed pine nuts:
30ml/2 tbsp. pine nuts and drizzle of light olive oil
Ground cinnamon to serve
Plain crackers to serve
Preheat oven to 200C/400F
Mash the helva with a fork and then add the other ingredients. If you like, use an electric hand mixer to reach a smooth consistency which should become like ‘a loose hummus’. Pour into a large baking dish or 6 individual or small ovenproof dishes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and place in the hot oven for about 5 – 10 minutes, depending on how deep you filled the ramekins.
In the meantime, sauté the pine nuts in a drizzle of light olive oil for a few minutes in a pan, until they are golden.
Once the halva is baked, sprinkle the sautéed pine nuts over the halva and serve hot, with plain crackers by the side. Baked or fresh apricots or figs would be lovely to serve with this baked tahini halva too.