Join amateur baker and YA librarian Paul Flagg in making halva in celebration of Arab American Heritage Month!
Halva literally means "sweet" or "sweetness" in Arabic and is a generic term for sweets. This dessert has a fudge-like consistency and is made with tahini, sugar, spices, and other ingredients. It is enjoyed by many cultures throughout the world and is particularly popular in the Middle East.
The recipe we'll be using for this program is from Epicurious and includes five varieties, so you can choose one (or more) to make! The variations are pistachio-rose, cardamom-chocolate, lemon-poppy seed, and chocolate-za’atar.
- 1 1/2 cups well-stirred tahini, room temperature
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- Line an 8x8" baking pan or a 9x4" loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2" overhang on 2 sides. Using a wooden spoon, mix tahini, salt, and vanilla in a medium heatproof bowl.
- Pour 1/4 cup water into a small saucepan, then stir in sugar. Attach a candy thermometer to side of pan.
- Bring sugar to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally to help sugar dissolve, until thermometer registers 250°F. Immediately remove syrup from heat. Gradually stream syrup into tahini mixture, mixing tahini constantly with wooden spoon. Continue to stir just until halva comes together in a smooth mass and starts to pull away from sides of bowl (less than a minute). Be careful not to overmix or halva will be crumbly.
- Working quickly, scrape halva into prepared pan, pushing toward edges; smooth top. Let cool to room temperature, then cover tightly with plastic and chill at least 2 hours. Remove from pan using parchment overhang. Slice as desired to serve.