Halvah

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Halvah

Postby Larry Greenly » Thu Aug 17, 2006 10:35 am

I like halvah, the sesame/honey confection. The local Smith's store sells the usual Joyva brand (which is good), but I happened to be in a middle Eastern deli where I spied several foreign brands.

I purchased Chtoura Garden Plain Halawa, coincidentally made in Lebanon (I wonder if the manufacturer has been destroyed in the recent fighting). It came in a plastic tub, so when my wife came home, she first thought I had left out some kind of cheese. The bottom line is that it's a yummy brand (but I also intend to try the three or four other brands the deli held).

One interesting note: the ingredient list and other information on the label is so tiny I had to use a magnifying glass (even smaller than the fine print in contracts--about a 1 point font). Must have been developed by a lawyer.

I've always been curious about a good halvah recipe. So if you have one, I'd like to see it.
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Re: Halvah

Postby Stuart Yaniger » Thu Aug 17, 2006 7:56 pm

Slice a big hunk. Pour a cup of strong black coffee. Enjoy one of the great pleasures in life.
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Re: Halvah

Postby Bob Ross » Thu Aug 17, 2006 8:39 pm

Stuart's way is superb, Larry.

A Polish refinement is to cut a fairly thin slice and serve it on a slice of bread.
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Re: Halvah

Postby Bob Ross » Thu Aug 17, 2006 8:47 pm

Actually, your question is a little ambiguous; here's a recipe I got from Bruce Weinstein's, The Ultimate Candy Book.

It's a little more grainy than the commercial types, but I enjoy making it; the aromas in the house were delicious:

Halvah

Makes about 1 1/2 pounds

1/2 cup untoasted sesame oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup tahini
3/4 cup honey

1. Warm the oil in a large heavy skilled over low heat. Add the flour and stir until the oil and flour are thoroughly combined. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to turn pale brown. Add the tahini and stir until the mixture has a uniform color and consistency. Turn off the heat.

2. In a separate small saucepan, bring the honey to a boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute. Immediately add the hot honey to the flour mixture. Stir until the honey is completely incorporated.

3. Spread the mixture into a small ungreased 5- by 9-inch loaf pan and pack the mixture down with the back of a spatula. Let the halvah cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours or until the pan feels cool. The halvah will shrink back slightly from the edges of the pan as it cools, and should therefore unmold easily when the pan is inverted. Wrap the halvah in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

4. To serve, cut the halvah into thin slices.


The only thing that changes the taste in this version is the type of honey I use. We prefer the clover versions -- simple rather than stronger versions, although I'd like to find a nice Mid Eastern honey.

Regards, Bob
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Re: Halvah

Postby Stuart Yaniger » Thu Aug 17, 2006 10:01 pm

Bob, you're right, I think I misinterpreted Larry's question. So by way of apology, let me point out that other forms of halvah besides sesame are not only possible, but are quite interesting. Indians, for example, make a softer version using carrots; one promising-looking recipe is here.
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Re: Halvah

Postby Larry Greenly » Thu Aug 17, 2006 11:55 pm

I meant how to make halvah, but I'll look at ways to serve and enjoy it or whatever. Anything for an actual conversational thread. What's with all the bashful people, anyway?
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Re: Halvah

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Fri Aug 18, 2006 12:23 am

So what's the definition of halvah, anyway? I always thought the sesame seed aspect was what made it halvah, but the recipe Stuart posted has none. What makes halvah halvah?


Mike

"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a very narrow field" - Niels Bohr
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Re: Halvah

Postby Bob Ross » Fri Aug 18, 2006 12:54 am

I use the OED definition, Mike, "halva", "halvah", "halvas", "halwa". = A sweetmeat made of sesame flour and honey -- i.e. based on tahini or sesame flour.

But there are many forms of the candy -- Wikipedia has I think one of the best discussions of the various forms on the Internet: The word halva is used to describe two distinctly different types of sweet, block shaped confections. One type of halva is based on semolina that is popular in India, Pakistan, and Persia. The other type is based on tahini, which is more popular in the east Mediterranean region.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halva

I haven't tried to make any of the semolina based versions -- I love the tahini based type, either my own interpretation or the commercial types.

Candy, I've learned, is a vast field -- and it probably isn't so good for me -- an obsession with wine is enough.

:-)
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