Weather is turning cooler for most us and we look out for delicious, comfort food. Tahini and honey 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. Nowadays prepared tahini is widely available in Middle Eastern stores abroad and at online stores like Best Turkish Food. Aside from the plain version of this sweet and flaky sesame based confection, there are many popular variations of Halva including chocolate and pistachio. The Turkish food store in North Cheam (address: 565-567 London Road, SM3 9AG, North Cheam) in the U.K. also carries Halva in packs.
This nut-butter-based Halva is made from tahini/tahin (sesame paste) or other nut butters e.g. sunflower seed butter with primary ingredients of nut butter, glucose and sugar or honey. This halva has a dry, 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 was inspired by dear fellow blogger, Claudia for this delicious recipe and slightly adapted with the addition of pine nuts. Please check her wonderful blog, A Seasonal Cook in Turkey, where Claudia uses the seasonal produce in Turkey for her delicious recipes.
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.